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Billede information:
Fugleart (IOC): Højlandsdrosselsanger (Cossypha semirufa) Rüppell's Robin-Chat - species factsheet
Stemme: Stemmer findes her (eksternt link).
Lokalitet: Lake Bojo, Etiopien
Dato: 8. februar 2011
Billede info: Note: The species wasn't in the list...
Billede opsætning: Canon EOS 7D + Canon EF 400/5.6L USM
Fotograf: David Erterius, Sverige
Uploadet den: 31. marts 2011
Hits: Billedet har været vist 3358 gange.


Uffe Gjøl Sørensen skriver torsdag 31. marts 2011 kl. 11.27
White-browed Robin-Chat er i Etiopien kun udbredt i det sydvestlige hjørne og Lake Boio ligger lige omkring den kendte grænse for arten. Men hvorfor er fuglen på billedet det ikke den lidt mindre art Rüppell's Robin-Chat (C.semirufa), der er udbredt i Etiopien? Mens White-browed Robin-chat har oliven-brune centrale halefjer er det bedste feltkendetegn for Rüppell's Robin-Chat netop sorte, centrale halefjer, som fuglen her synes at vise.

David Erterius skriver torsdag 31. marts 2011 kl. 14.29
Thanks for your comments Uffe!

According to the book Birds Of The Horn Of Africa by Redman et. al., the range of White-browed covers the southern part of the ethiopian Rift Valley. The same area in which Lake Bojo is located.

In this case, the identification was based on the appearance of the bird, but also on the habitat and altitude. It was seen at a quite sparsely vegetated woodland edge at the shore of Lake Bojo. Got the impression of a quite confident and not very shy bird, thus it gave very good photo opportunities.

Here's two additional shots showing the very same bird, and as far as I can judge, the central tail feathers aren't blackish but more brownish:

keld jakobsen skriver torsdag 31. marts 2011 kl. 21.55
Utrolig drilsk lille djævel,havde man ikke kendt sted/højde var jeg uden tvivl med på Ruppell`s vognen,har set wbr-chat i tre lande men aldrig har den synet så lille og kompakt som denne!!!Men billederne fejler bestemt ikke noget,smukt:)

David Erterius skriver fredag 1. april 2011 kl. 13.11
Found a photo of a White-browed with similarly dark central tail feathers:

Silas Kristian Krag Olofson skriver fredag 1. april 2011 kl. 18.57
I must admit that I also would have thought this one to be a rüppels robin-chat. This is based on the dark back with an almost olive feel to it, where white-browed has a more dark greyish appearence. The fact that it appears small and the fact the the orange doen't continue further up the neck as it typically does with white-browed robin-chat.


Jon Lehmberg skriver fredag 1. april 2011 kl. 21.56
Hi guys ,

I'm impressed that some of you are able to tell the size of the bird in such detail from this photo alone! Other characters like the exact colour nuance of the central tail feathers and the back are useful , but as always something to be careful with when dealing with pictures only.

In my humble opinion Uffe is probably right (he often is!) about it being a Rüppell's RC. I think the best character here is mentioned by Silas , namely the lack of an orange half-collar.
It is my experience that on RRC the orange most often go no further round the neck than the lower "corner" of the black mask , while on WBRC it typically reaches as far as the upper edge of the white eyebrow.

Altitude , habitat and general distribution are , of course , often helpful when ID'ing birds , but should be used with care in lightly birded areas of the world - anyway , that is my experience when birding in places like Eastern Africa , where birds regularly seem to pop up far away from their known distribution.


Jan Jörgensen skriver lørdag 2. april 2011 kl. 00.25
I don´t know much about Cossypha species other than that the two mentioned species here (apart from habitat and altitude) and what´s been said here seems to be semirufa
by looking at one of the other pic by David, the one showing the neck pattern.




semirufa/two races, note rufous collar

one more


Thomas Varto Nielsen skriver mandag 4. april 2011 kl. 13.34
This bird looks more like a Ruppells Robinchat than a Heuglins/white-browed.
The central tail looks to dark for White-browed and the back also appears slightly darker than a typical white-browed. The broad white eyebrow, broader behind the eye does however fit white-browed better - but this is to some extend a variable feature.
Ruppells can sometimes show very dark brown central tail, not always pure black. White-browed should be obviously brown - often difficult to judge in the field.
I think this bird can not be safely identified from this picture alone. I cant see the other pictures, since I am in Ethiopia and my only access to the internet is currently an internet cafe.
I'm not aware of any records of White-browed RC at lake Boyo, the nearest known place is Awassa some 70 km from Lake Boyo. If this bird is a White-browed RC this record would be a range extension for this species. As far as I remember lake Boyo is at a higher altitude than Awassa (Boyo is near Hosaina which is considerably higher than Awassa). It would therefore also be to high for White-browed. But off course Boyo and the areas between here and Awassa are rarely visited by birders, so anything it possible.
Uffe is right White-browed is only found in the south western lowlands of Ethiopia below 1600-1700 m asl and lake Boyo is not included in the distribution of White-browed in Ash & Atkins "Birds of Ethiopia and Eritrea" and also not in the field guide to birds of the horn of Africa.
Even within its distribution White-browed is not common. Ruppells is common in most of Ethiopia including my own garden in Addis Ababa.
Ruppells / White-browed Robinchat would be the correct name for this bird.

Jon Lehmberg skriver mandag 4. april 2011 kl. 23.17
Hi again ,

Sorry to disagree , Thomas , but I think this bird is absolutely identifiable!
I see nothing indicating that this bird should be a White-browed Robin-chat. In my opinion the width of the white eyebrow , though mentioned in pretty much every fieldguide available , is a useless character at best , and misleading at worst!

Best regards

David Erterius skriver tirsdag 5. april 2011 kl. 11.07
Hi all,

I have to say thanks for your comments, very appreciated!

Now, I've had the time to make an extensive photo research on the www, and must admit that the appearance of this bird seems to fit Rüppell's Robin-Chat much better than White-browed. Together with the very informative comments, particularly by Silas, Jon and Thomas, I now fully agree that this bird is a Rüppell's and not a White-browed. Guess that I simply have to eat humble pie on this one...

I must admit that I trusted the handbook (Birds Of The Horn Of Africa) in this case. The combination of flaring supercilium behind the eye, distribution, habitat and altitude made me think that this must be a White-browed. I concentrated on taking photos and didn't scan it through the bins at all. Was quite stressed since we were close to departue with our jeep, and in addition lots of other species in the surroundings drew my attention (as usual).

This must be a good example in how important it is not to believe implicitly in the handbooks all the time. I suppose that most people agree that the handbook Birds Of The Horn Of Africa is quite useless in this particular case.

So, may I ask the admin to change the name to Rüppell's Robin-Chat (Cossypha semirufa)?

David Erterius skriver tirsdag 5. april 2011 kl. 18.37
Hi again,

A couple of additional photos of this individual can now be seen on my recently created homepage:

Best wishes,


Thomas Varto Nielsen skriver tirsdag 5. april 2011 kl. 20.16
David, who has actually seen the bird in the field, wrote in his first comment, that he judged the central tail feathers to be brownish. That was my main reason for saying the bird was not safely identifiable - it is also sometimes risky to identify a bird from a single photo....
If David agrees that the central tail feathers are more black than brown, I see no problem in calling the bird a Ruppells RC.
The colour of the central tail feathers is by far the most important character for these 2 species.
I have just checked most of my pictures of Ruppells RC and the eye-brow is often just like this bird. Many field guides mention this character, I think it is because on average White-browed has a longer and wider eye-stripe. I agree with Jon that the character is of little use - but I disagree that it is misleading.
The lack of a complete orange neck-collar is also a good character for Ruppells. But beware that this character is sometimes difficult to use in the field. A bird apparently without complete neck collar can still be a White-browed - it is sometimes difficult to see the neck collar.
Also beware of the race "Donaldsoni" (eastern Ethiopia + Locally in Rift valley) of Ruppells which has an almost complete orange neck collar much like White-browed!
Last week I saw this race at 1300 m asl in Rift valley and I had to spend quite some time watching that bird before I was convinced it was a Ruppells!
Ruppells and White-browed Robinchats sometimes cause identification problems for all birders visiting Ethiopia.
I will not call the Field guide to "birds of the horn of africa" useless in this case. The text is good, other african field guides are not better - except "Birds of kenya & Northern Tanzania" which also has more accurate illustrations of the 2 species.

David Erterius skriver onsdag 6. april 2011 kl. 13.20
Thanks for your detailed reply Thomas! My judgement, that the central tail feathers seemed to be brownish, was based on the images. I focused on taking photos and didn't scan the bird through the bins, as I said earlier.

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