Cape Rockjumper Chaetops frenatus Scientific name definitions

Krista N. Oswald
Version: 2.0 — Published May 17, 2021

Movements and Migration

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Resident. No evidence of movement by individuals once established as part of the dominant breeding pair in a territory.

Dispersal and Site Fidelity


Little is known about dispersal of this species. Recent genetic studies found no evidence for inbreeding within any given mountain range (6), but there is no data for their movement between individual ranges. As they do not have sustained flight (see Behavior: Locomotion), to get from one mountain to another, the Cape Rockjumper must hop or glide across the lowland fynbos and karoo habitat. To date no birds have been recorded between mountain ranges.

Ongoing banding and observations at Blue Hill Nature Reserve, involving color-identified individuals, began in 2014 and have provided a basis for the Cape Rockjumper's longevity and dispersal (see Demography: Life Span and Survivorship).

It is suspected that dispersal is by young females: young male birds have been observed dispersing from their natal territory only to nearby territories (within 2 km) (KNO, personal observations) (15). No young females have been re-sighted after attaining their adult plumage.

Site Fidelity

Shows strong site fidelity. Individual birds (both male and female and supernumeraries) maintain specific territories, although there will be minor shifts to borders throughout the years (see Behavior: Agonistic Behavior). In two cases where the breeding female disappeared from a territory, the breeding adult males were observed shifting to adjacent territories where they paired with females whose males had disappeared between breeding seasons (likely from mortality) (15).

Lives in small groups of up to four adult birds, occupying territories of 10-20 hectares (25-50 acres) (15), although further east they have been found in territories of more than 20 hectares (KNO, personal observations). These groups consist of a single breeding pair, with 1–2 additional helpers (usually male), often offspring from the previous year (15 ; 5).

Migration Overview

No evidence for migration.

Recommended Citation

Oswald, K. N. (2021). Cape Rockjumper (Chaetops frenatus), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (T. S. Schulenberg and B. K. Keeney, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.rufroc1.02