The Cape Bird Club

Karoo Robin project by Fay Howa

 photographs by Doug Harebottle

PGB - Karoo Scrub Robin ringed and released at GZENR.

On the 13th of July  2007, the first of six Karoo Scrub-Robins (Cercotrichas coryphaeus) was successfully moved from the Sewage Works in Strandfontein to the GZENR. These birds are being brought to Zandvlei as a student research project to see if the Karoo Scrub Robin population would be able to colonise Zandvlei.

For the last 50 years, Karoo Scrub-robins have not been seen at Zandvlei Nature Reserve. It has been suggested that the habitat may not have been able to support a Karoo Scrub-Robin population. However, the vegetation of the reserve has changed considerably in the last 50 years. Many plants that are essential to Karoo Scrub Robin survival occur in the reserve.
Karoo Scrub-Robins have very small home ranges and will not move more than 3 natal territories from its parents. This indicates that these birds are currently unable to move to GZENR on their own to colonise the area.

The Karoo Scrub-Robins that are being trapped at Strandfontein are rung with a combination of colour rings in addition to a steel SAFRING ring. The sequence of colour rings will allow us to distinguish between individuals in the field.

A monitoring programme is in progress to monitor the success of this population. Visitors to the reserve are encouraged to report any sightings of colour ring combinations or birdcalls of this bird species via telephone, fax or e-mail to aid in the research on this species.

Distinguishing characteristics of Karoo Robins:

  • Eyebrow, throat and tail tips are white.

  • Dull, grey plumage and black tail

  • Body size of up to 17cm

  • Darting movements and fanning of its tail

The first Karoo Scrub-Robin is named PGB after the sequence of pink, green and blue colour rings on its left tarsus.

Any reported sightings of this bird would be much appreciated.


Fay Howa    Nature Conservation Intern (GZENR)
tel                021 701 7542


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