The image reflects the habitat of the Chorister Robin-chat perfectly – deep in the forest where sunlight is at a premium!
Chorister Robin-chat, Cossypha dichroa
At length 19-20 cm and mass 38-44 g the Chorister Robin-chat is the largest of South Africa’s robin-chats. The adult bird has slate-grey upperparts and orange underparts; the tail is orange with a black centre; its black hood and mask is diagnostic. The immature bird is spotted buff above and scaled buff below.
It is endemic and found in the eastern parts of South Africa and Swaziland.
Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and particularly mist-belt forest.
The Chorister Robin-chat is usually solitary and inconspicuous if not calling, but can be confiding. The male commonly mimics selectively some loud songs of local species that occurs during their own favoured singing periods. Each bird can be recognised individually by their voices. The bird’s song is rich and melodious with trills, whistles and imitations of other birds' calls. It responds to human whistles and pishing, especially if their alarm call can be replicated.
If disturbed near the ground the bird will rise from perch to perch in short flights, going continuously higher, often flicking its wings and jerking up its tail.
Breeding and nesting:
The C. dichroa
is monogamous, probably pairing for life. It breeds from October to January. The nest is a shallow cup of plant material in a cavity, usually in a tree trunk. There are usually two or three eggs; the nestling is fed by both parents. They sometimes host the Red-chested Cuckoo.
The robin-chat forages in the canopy for fruit and on the ground for insects and other invertebrates. They often accompany herbivores feeding on the canopy floor to pounce on any insects disturbed by the “beaters”.