Family Old World Flycatchers and Chats (Muscicapidae)

Least Concern

Short-toed Rock-thrush (Monticola brevipes)


French: Monticole à doigts courts German: Kurzzehenrötel Spanish: Roquero de Namibia

Petrocincla brevipes


, 1838,

‘Tans Mountain, Damaraland, near Walvis Bay, Namibia


Race pretoriae has been considered a separate species, but intergrades extensively with nominate in Kuruman district of Northern Cape, in South Africa, and molecular evidence suggests low levels of genetic differentiation#R#R. Parapatric with M. angolensis. Proposed races niveiceps (Huíla, Angola), kaokoensis (Kamanjab, Namibia) and leucocapilla (S Bechuanaland, W Transvaal and Free State) synonymized with nominate. Two subspecies ­recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. b. brevipes (Waterhouse, 1838) – W Angola, Namibia and NW South Africa (Northern Cape).
  • M. b. pretoriae Gunning & Roberts, 1911 – SE Botswana and C South Africa (E from E Northern Cape). Uncertain status of a putative isolated population in Lebombo Mts (Swaziland)#R.
  • Descriptive notes

    18 cm; 33 g. Male nominate race has forehead to mid-crown whitish, shading to mid-grey on nape and mantle, grey extending around to throat and enclosing dark grey facial area... read more


    Song like that of M. explorator but without the trills, typically lasting c. 4 seconds... read more


    Dry mountainous or broken country with trees or tall scrub, including grassy slopes with rock... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, scorpions, seeds, fruits (including fallen olives); small gecko once seen fed to nestlings. Stomachs of four birds from throughout... read more


    Oct–Mar in Namibia, Aug–Dec in Botswana and Sept–Jan in C South Africa (North West Province). Nest a bulky cup of dry... read more


    Considerable post-breeding displacements occur, with birds dispersing to occupy winter territories... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common throughout most of range. No recent evidence for existence of suggested isolated population in Lebombo Mts, in E Swaziland.

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. (2020). Short-toed Rock-thrush (Monticola brevipes). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 25 February 2020).