Swynnerton's Robin Swynnertonia swynnertoni Scientific name definitions

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

Sounds and Vocal Behavior


Vocal Array

Song. A short series of 2–5 melancholic, high-pitched notes which usually cannot be heard far away (1, FPJ). The song varies between individuals and populations, but sometimes variations in the number of notes can also be heard from the same bird.

In Zimbabwe the song usually has 3 notes, tee-werche-woo or tee-terwer-choo or 4 notes , but sometimes only 2 notes (1). In Udzungwa Mountains (Tanzania) it has 2 notes or 3 notes , occasionally 4 notes (24). The song of birds in East Usambara Mountains (Tanzania) has been described as a sweet, high-pitched leisurely whistle of 4 notes with the first note or pair of notes higher in pitch and the last note sometimes omitted, or a fifth note added (4). All variations could be heard from a single individual in some cases (4).

Contact call. The frequently given contact call tee consists of a single note of the song (1) or two whistled notes tee-terwer , very similar if not identical to the 2-note song. Another contact call is an abrupt, low-pitched chirp (1). Also, a soft, quiet musical warble lasting 3–4 s (2).

Alarm call. High-pitched, monotonous, purring trrrrrrrrrrrrrrr of no great volume (1), sometimes ending in 2–3 harsh, squeaky notes, wee-twaw-tweee (1). Also, a high-pitched, descending sceeeep given by male and female (2).

Geographic Variation

Song is known to vary across populations (see Vocal Array: Song).


Sings mostly during the breeding period, which corresponds to the rainy season (see Breeding: Phenology).

Daily Pattern of Vocalizing

The song is most frequently heard in the early morning and late afternoon (, 4).

Sex Differences

None Reported.

Social Context and Presumed Functions of Vocalizations

The contact call tee is frequently uttered to ensure contact with other birds (1). The soft musical warble is heard when several birds gather (e.g., when displaying or attending an army-ant swarm) (2). The abrupt, low-pitched chirp contact call is used when adults approach young in nest (1). The high-pitched, purring alarm trrrrrrrrrrrrrrr is mostly used in defense of nest and young (1), but also when disturbed birds are disturbed (FPJ). The high-pitched, descending alarm sceeeep is sometimes given by the male and female when anxious (2).

Nonvocal Sounds

None reported.

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