Family Old World Flycatchers and Chats (Muscicapidae)

Least Concern

White-browed Robin-chat (Cossypha heuglini)


French: Cossyphe de Heuglin German: Weißbrauenrötel Spanish: Cosifa de Heuglin

Cossypha heuglini


, 1866,

“Keren”; error = Wau, Bahr el Ghazal, South Sudan


Geographical variation generally slight and possibly clinal#R. Proposed races pallidior (Chari Valley, in Chad) and orphea (Angola–Namibia border) synonymized with nominate and euronota (S Zimbabwe S to NE South Africa) with intermedia. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. h. subrufescens Bocage, 1869 – Gabon S to W Angola.
  • C. h. heuglini Hartlaub, 1866 – extreme N Cameroon, S Chad, SW Sudan and N & SW Central African Republic E to South Sudan, Ethiopia, S to E Angola, N Botswana, Zimbabwe and N South Africa.
  • C. h. intermedia (Cabanis, 1868) – S Somalia S in coastal E Africa to NE South Africa (S to KwaZulu-Natal).
  • Descriptive notes

    19–20 cm; 29–44 g. Nominate race has blackish head with long white supercilium, narrow rufous hindcollar linking to all-rufous underparts; dark olive grey-brown... read more


    Song (by male) distinctive, an extended series of standard phrases repeated 2–5 times,... read more


    Evergreen forest edge and thickets (e.g. termitaria thickets), latter especially within riverine... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly insects, particularly ants and beetles, but also fruit. Of 19 stomachs and nine faecal samples from across range, 86% held ants (... read more


    Coincides with two local rainy seasons in E Africa, in Apr–May (43% of clutches) and Nov–Jan (29%), but in most or all months... read more


    Sedentary; in Kenya, individuals may appear in drier areas after rains.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. The most widely distributed and least habitat-restricted robin-chat; very common throughout range, except at fringes; e.g. very uncommon in S Somalia... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. (2020). White-browed Robin-chat (Cossypha heuglini). 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).