Emu Emu Society
Journal of BirdLife Australia

Breeding biology of the Kalahari Scrub-Robin (Cercotrichas paena) (Muscicapidae)

G. Derek Engelbrecht
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

School of Molecular and Life Sciences, University of Limpopo, Private Bag X1106, Sovenga ZA-0727, South Africa. Email: engelbrechtd@ul.ac.za

Emu 108(4) 293-300 https://doi.org/10.1071/MU07078
Submitted: 22 December 2007  Accepted: 09 August 2008   Published: 23 October 2008


Aspects of the biology of the Kalahari Scrub-Robin (Cercotrichas paena) were studied in the Polokwane Nature Reserve, South Africa, from June 2004 to March 2007. Pairs occupied permanent territories ranging in size from ~0.7 to 4.3 ha. The breeding season in the study area extended from August to February, with a peak in November that coincided with the peak of the wet season. The mean clutch-size was 2.1 but there was seasonal variation, with mean clutch-size significantly larger in the later part of the breeding season compared with the early and mid-parts of the season, and there was no significant difference between the early and mid-seasons. Females were responsible for construction of nests and incubation, but both sexes fed nestlings and fledglings. The maximum number of known breeding attempts by a pair in a season was eight, of which two were successful. The Kalahari Scrub-Robin is the first African robin for which triple-brooding was recorded, and the most young fledged by a single pair in one season was seven. The mean incubation and nestling periods were 12.5 (n = 11) and 11.9 (n = 28) days respectively. Growth patterns of nestling are described with reference to mass, head-length and tarsal length. The period of dependence after fledging was 4–6 weeks. The overall breeding success was 27.1% and the mean number of young fledged per pair per annum was 2.8.


I thank the Polokwane Municipality, Joe Grosel and Rowan Van Tonder, for their assistance throughout the study. I wish to thank SAFRING at the Avian Demography Unit (University of Cape Town, South Africa) for supplying banding equipment, and NERCS for providing me with the nest record data for the species. I also wish to express my gratitude to three anonymous referees for their input and suggestions to improve the manuscript.


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