Finding the closest mate
On a recent birding tour, my clients and I observed a chorister robin-chat carrying food at one of my birding spots in Port Alfred.
This particular individual is quite settled in the area and can be quite tame. On one or two occasions in the past, I have also seen a hybrid red-capped/ chorister robin-chat in the same general area. These hybrids can be identified as birds looking like a pure red-capped robin-chat, but with a broad grey crown (instead of a narrow rufous or greyish crown) and/or smudges on the ear coverts.
Very recently I saw this hybrid in almost the same spot as my most recent chorister robin-chat sighting, also carrying food. The “pure” chorister soon appeared and it seems these two birds have paired up. If they are successful in rearing young, it will be interesting to see what they look like when they mature – although I think by time they are adult birds, they will be long gone and well out of the territory.
One of the main reasons I think these robin-chats hybridise, is that the red-capped’s distribution range ends here in our area. Seeing as it is on the very edge of the range, they are locally scarce and often battle to find a mate of their own species. So, what to do? Find the next best thing, its closest relative . . . the chorister robin-chat, which is far more common in our area.
Now here is something interesting. The chorister and red-capped robin-chats each have their own contact call. The chorister’s usual contact whistle is a clean “teu, toy”, as can be heard at
The (pure) red-capped robin-cat’s contact call, is more of a trilling, “trree, trroo” call, as heard at
At this particular spot where I have seen both birds, I have heard them imitating each other’s contact call!
Well, that’s it for now. Please remember that I am available for local birding tours. You can contact me on 072-314-0069 for more information. Until next time, enjoy your birding!