Family Old World Flycatchers and Chats (Muscicapidae)

Least Concern

White-starred Robin (Pogonocichla stellata)


French: Rougegorge étoilé German: Sternrötel Spanish: Ruiseñor estrellado
Other common names: Starred Robin

Muscicapa stellata


, 1818,

Plettenberg Bay, Cape Province, South Africa


Subspecific taxonomy complex; one group of races (including intensa, ruwenzorii, guttifer, orientalis and nominate) has simple piping call, and another (including macarthuri, helleri and transvaalensis) has complex piping call, but these groups not separated in simple geographical pattern; also, subadult plumage (unique among African robins) varies depending on race. Other described races are friedmanni, synonymized with ruwenzorii; lebombo (Lebombo Mts, on Zululand–Swaziland border), synonymized with transvaalensis; and margaritata (described from Pietermaritzburg, in E South Africa), synonymized with nominate. Twelve subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. s. pallidiflava Cunningham-van Someren & Schifter, 1981 – Imatong Mts, in S South Sudan.
  • P. s. ruwenzorii (Ogilvie-Grant, 1906) – NE DRCongo, SW Uganda, W Rwanda and W Burundi.
  • P. s. elgonensis (Ogilvie-Grant, 1911) – Mt Elgon, on Uganda–Kenya border.
  • P. s. intensa Sharpe, 1901 – N & C Kenya and N Tanzania.
  • P. s. macarthuri van Someren, 1939 – Chyulu Hills, in SE Kenya.
  • P. s. helleri Mearns, 1913 – Taita Hills (SE Kenya) and NE Tanzania.
  • P. s. guttifer (Reichenow & Neumann, 1895) – Mt Kilimanjaro, in N Tanzania.
  • P. s. orientalis (G. A. Fischer & Reichenow, 1884) – W, E, & S Tanzania S to Malawi and Mozambique.
  • P. s. hygrica Clancey, 1969 – W Mozambique.
  • P. s. chirindensis (Roberts, 1914) – E Zimbabwe.
  • P. s. transvaalensis (Roberts, 1912) – N South Africa (former Transvaal).
  • P. s. stellata (Vieillot, 1818) – E & S South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Western Cape) and Swaziland.
  • Descriptive notes

    15–16 cm; 18–25 g. Nominate race has slate-grey to bluish-slate hood (to upper breast), with white supraloral spot and white lower-throat spot (both often... read more


    Geographically variable. Song used to advertise territory rather quiet, by both sexes, usually from... read more


    Breeds in primary and secondary moist evergreen forest with good understorey (at least one dense... read more

    Food and feeding

    Small invertebrates and fruit. Of 214 faecal samples from South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal), 83% held beetles, 58% moths, 43% ants, 34% spiders... read more


    Aug–May in DRCongo (Dec–Feb, Rwenzori), breeding condition Mar and Jun and suggested as breeding Aug–Nov (Kivu District... read more


    Partial altitudinal migrant, involving mainly subadults, most pronounced in S of range, where... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common to abundant in many parts of range, e.g. Imatong Mts (Sudan) and Itombwe Mts (E DRCongo). In N South Africa, 5 pairs in 4·5 ha, in Malawi held... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. (2020). White-starred Robin (Pogonocichla stellata). 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).