Emu Emu Society
Journal of BirdLife Australia

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

G. Derek Engelbrecht

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 http://dx.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.


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