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Robin-chat: Chorister Robin-chat

Identify and index birds in Southern Africa
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Johan van Rensburg
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Robin-chat: Chorister Robin-chat

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Tue Nov 27, 2007 11:46 pm

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

Physical characteristics:
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”.
728 Latest lifers: Hartlaub's babbler, Coppery-tailed coucal, Red-billed spurfowl, White-browed coucal, Scharlow's turaco, Copper sunbird, Long-toed lapwing, Eastern bronze-naped pigeon, Malagasy pond heron, Soft-plumaged petrel, Orange-winged pytilia.

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Unread post by deefstes » Thu Nov 29, 2007 1:27 pm

Nice shot JvR. Shows the bird in much the way as one would typically see it.

These birds are fantastic mimics of course, second perhaps only to the Red-capped Robin-Chat. They even mimic Hadedas which is the reason one can not tick a bird on call on Birding Big Day... according to some. :roll:

They're actually rather fun to play with. If you hear him call, whistle a similar tune and he will probably repeat it. Then whistle again but slightly adjusting the tune and he will follow. If you continue doing this, each time, changing the tune slightly you can get him to mimic your tune every time.

If you make the tune too complex he will usually be silent for a while, almost as if thinking by himself "how the bleep am I going to do this one?" and then he reverts to an older tune again.
"Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals ... except the weasel." -Homer Simpson

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Unread post by Johann » Thu Nov 29, 2007 1:34 pm

Last weekend in Magoebaskloof we had one showing off. He was doing a brilliant Emerald Cuckoo. Had the guide fooled as well for a minute or so.
Few minutes later he changed over to being a Cape Parrot.
Brilliant :clap:
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
Albert Einstein

Latest lifers from Kruger NP:
Thick-billed Cuckoo Pachycoccyx audeberti Dikbekkoekoek
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe Europese skaapwagter

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Unread post by Senyetse » Thu Nov 29, 2007 2:33 pm

Was watching a home video of our trip to Storms River mouth 11 years ago and there was a beautiful shot of a Chorister Robin-chat. Didn't know at the time what it was but looked it up and added it to my list 11 years after seeing and videoing it! :D
Dec '11 - Storms River
June '12 - Berg-en-Dal

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