- Swynnerton's Robin
 - Swynnerton's Robin (Udzungwa)

Swynnerton's Robin Swynnertonia swynnertoni Scientific name definitions

Flemming P. Jensen
Version: 2.0 — Published February 4, 2022
Revision Notes

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A small and slender chat restricted to Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania, the Swynnerton’s Robin is generally associated with montane forests from 1,200–1,700 meters elevation. It is an unobtrusive species that feeds on insects on the forest floor and is easily overlooked, despite its bright yellow underparts.

This restricted-range species is known only from seven montane forest areas, some of which are very small. Because the size and quality of habitats in several of these forests are declining, the distribution is becoming increasingly fragmented and populations are likely decreasing. As a result, Swynnerton’s Robin is classified as Vulnerable by BirdLife International.

From its discovery in 1905 until 1981, it was known only from a few montane forests in eastern Zimbabwe and from Mt. Gorongosa in Mozambique. In 1981 a new subspecies (rodgersi) was discovered in the Udzungwa Mountains in central Tanzania, some 1,100 km to the north, and is now likely the largest population of the species. In 1990 another small population was discovered in the foothills of the East Usambara Mountains in northeastern Tanzania, where it surprisingly appears to be limited to lowland forest from 130–550 meters. In 2008 another small population was discovered in montane forest on Mt. Mabu in Mozambique.

Swynnerton’s Robin is relatively well-studied in Zimbabwe. The first to report on its habitat requirements and breeding was by C. F. M. Swynnerton – the discoverer of the species – who studied it in Chirinda Forest from 1905 to 1908. He and others found that breeding occurs during the rainy season, with the nest located in a tree or a shrub, just one meter above ground. The two eggs (sometimes three) are incubated for 16 days and young remain in the nest for two weeks. Both parents feed the chicks, but the bulk of food is provided by the female. Young birds probably first breed at two years of age and the pairing appears to be for life.

Distribution of the Swynnerton's Robin - Range Map
  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding
Distribution of the Swynnerton's Robin

Recommended Citation

Jensen, F. P. (2022). Swynnerton's Robin (Swynnertonia swynnertoni), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (P. G. Rodewald, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.swyrob1.02