Family Old World Flycatchers and Chats (Muscicapidae)

Least Concern

Sooty Chat (Myrmecocichla nigra)


French: Traquet commandeur German: Hadesschmätzer Spanish: Zorzal hormiguero negro

Œnanthe nigra


, 1818,

west coast of Africa = Malimbe, Angola




Discontinuously SE Nigeria E to S South Sudan, W Kenya and E Tanzania, S to S Angola and S Zambia. Also recorded in Senegal, Gambia and Liberia, but status unknown#R.

Descriptive notes

16–18 cm; 37–46 g. Male is glossy black, with white shoulder patch, dark brown primaries; black bill and legs. Female is dark brown throughout. Juvenile male is... read more


Song (by both sexes) a relatively quiet but wild-sounding series of slightly varied short phrases... read more


Short-grass country with termitaria, with or without scattered bushes; common along roads, in... read more

Food and feeding

Apart from seeds and berries, only insects recorded: caterpillars, termites, ants and grasshoppers. Forages on ground, and probably also... read more


Most breeding usually in rains. Almost all year in E Africa, depending on region (no Jul records), May–Jun and Oct in Uganda; Mar and... read more



Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Common locally, especially at higher altitudes, but apparently absent from certain areas which appear suitable (e.g. NW Zambia). Extremely few and... read more

Recommended citation

Collar, N. (2020). Sooty Chat (Myrmecocichla nigra). 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).