The Short-toed rock-thrush is a near endemic to the southern African region, with its range outside of the region being limited to southern Angola. Its preferred habitat within this range is the arid western and central part of the region and it is often seen in the rocky outcrops along the Namibian escarpment. It ventures into towns and villages on occasion, where it seems to become quite accustomed to the presence of humans and several times we have found them visiting our campsite when camping on the Namibian escarpment. It is a fairly solitary bird and is seldom seen in groups.
Approximately 18 cm in length, the male Short-toed rock-thrush has a slate-grey head, throat and back, with the remainder of the under parts being a rich rufous orange. The forehead and crown are whitish-grey; the legs, bill and eyes are black. Although the males and females are of similar size, the sexes are dimorphic in plumage colouration; the throat of the female is speckled white and and the forehead and crown are slate-grey.
The call of the Short-toed rock-thrush is a series of quite jumbled sounds with a whistle-like intonation. It forages mainly on the ground, feeding on insects such as grasshoppers and termites, as well as fruit and seeds.
The Short-toed rock-thrush is monogamous, usually building its cup nest at the base of a suitable rock, and lining it with soft vegetation. The female lays a clutch of two to four sky-blue or greenish-blue eggs that hatch after an incubation period of about 14 days.
The scientific name for the Short-toed rock-thrush is Monticola brevipes; Monticola from the Latin for “an inhabitant of the mountains” and brevipes from the Latin for “short footed”. Thus a bird that inhabits the mountains and has short toes, which I guess is accurate enough as names go.