Animal Name: Cape Robin-chat
Scientific Name: Cossypha caffra
Habitat: It occupies a variety of habitat types, generally preferring areas with quite dense undergrowth and scattered trees, bushes, rocks or other structures to use for perching, along with surface water for drinking and bathing. It is a common bird in gardens across much of its distribution, including in city centres such as in Cape Town.
Distribution: Occurs in patches from southern Sudan to Kenya, eastern DRC and Tanzania, with the largest population in southern Africa. Here it is common across South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, southern Mozambique and southern Namibia, with an isolated population in Zimbabwe’s eastern Highlands.
Diet: It mainly eats insects and other invertebrates, supplemented with fruit and seeds plucked from bushes, trees or the ground. It does a lot of its foraging in leaf litter, flicking through plant debris in search of food and occasionally aerially hawking an insect; it may also glean invertebrates from leaves, branches and rocks.
Monogamous, highly territorial solitary nester, as the male aggressively defends his territory against other males as well as other species, such as white-eyes, sunbirds and doves.
The nest is usually built solely by the female in about 1-14 days, gathering a clump of material together before shuffling its body into it to form a cup. It is usually made out of bark fragments, twigs, dry grass, fern fronds, rootlets, dead leaves, moss and seed pods and lined with finer fibres, such as hair, rootlets and plant inflorescences. It is most commonly placed in a hollow in an earthen bank, cavity in a tree trunk, densely foliaged shrub, dry flood debris along a stream bank, or in pots or boxes overgrown with vegetation. It has even been recorded to placed the nest in a dried flower arrangement in the lounge of the Grahamstown Golf Club!
Egg-laying season is from about June-January, peaking around October-November.
It lays 2-3 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 14-19 days.
The female broods the chicks throughout the night and intermittently through the day, for the first 5-11 days of their lives. They are fed by both parents, eventually leaving the nest at about 14-18 days old, remaining dependent on their parents for about 5-7 weeks more. During this period the adults are particularly viglant about protecting their young, sometimes attacking snake such as boomslangs (Dispholidus typus) and Cape cobras (Naja nivea).