There are 14 species of Cossypha robin-chats in Africa. They are medium sized thrushes and sexes are alike. They have much red in the plumage and many species have a white eyebrow. The juveniles are spotted above and mottled below, but the tail pattern is the same as that of the adults. These birds have long tarsi and are usually found on or near the ground in forest or thickets, although some species occur in gardens that are near well wooded areas. They are most active at dawn and dusk, and are accomplished songsters and often mimic the calls of other species.
The Chorister Robin-Chat has the greatest longevity at 24 years, based on a recapture of a colour ringed bird (read story here). The Cape Robin-chat has been well ringed and has a high longevity of 17 years (see Table below). The other South African robin-chats have lower ringing rates, but still high longevities at 9 years or more. The other African robin-chats have very low ringing totals with SAFRING rings, but there are probably many more ringed for the Kenyan species.
The Birds of Africa handbook (Vol 4, 1992) provides two additional longevity records from various published studies. In Malawi the Olive-flanked Robin was recorded with a longevity of over 10 years. In Kenya a Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat had a longevity of 8 years (and there is a record of 24 years of a bird in captivity).
Many more longevity records are to be expected from this well loved group of birds, as more of them are ringed!
Table. Number of robin-chats ringed and longevity records from SAFRING database, data extracted 7/06/2019
|Species||Latin||Ringed / retraps / recovered||Longevity||Ringno|
|Olive-flanked Robin||C. anomala||31 / 2 / 0||1y 0m 10d||CV48526|
|Chorister Robin-Chat||C. dichroa||1401 / 206 / 4||24y||295904|
|Red-capped Robin-Chat||C. natalensis||3466 / 582 / 12||11y 11m 27d||BD20060|
|White-browed Robin-Chat||C. heuglini||1271 / 255 / 10||11y 9m 0d||A109741|
|Cape Robin-chat||C. caffra||19370 / 4538 / 197||17y 5m 12d||F68667|
|White-throated Robin-Chat||C. humeralis||1179 / 189 / 4||9y 8m 18d||AA37869|
|Grey-winged Robin-Chat||C. polioptera||40 / 3 / 0||3y 6m 15d||FA12016|
|Mountain Robin-Chat||C. isabellae||114 / 21 / 1||6y 4m 29d||BH91815|
|White-crowned Robin-Chat||C. albicapilla||6 / 1 / 0||0y 0m 8d||4A52476|
|Archer’s Robin-Chat||C. archeri||3 / 0 / 0|
|Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat||C. cyanocampter||3 / 0 / 0|
|Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat||C. niveicapilla||116 / 28 / 0||7y 6m 12d||4A48948|
|Rueppell’s Robin-Chat||C. semirufa||0 / 0 / 0|
|White-headed Robin-Chat||C. heinrichi||0 / 0 / 0|
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