The White-browed scrub-robin, like many of the robins, is often heard and rather less often seen. The males and females are alike in both size and plumage coloration and it is of fairly average size as robins go, with a length of approximately 15 cm. It has brown upper parts; a rufous rump; white under parts with the breast and sides of the neck streaked with dark brown. Needless to say it has a white eyebrow, and also black moustachial stripes. The bill is black; eyes are brown; legs and feet are pink.
The White-browed scrub-robin is found through most of Africa and in the southern African region it is found in the north and the east, but not in deserts or the Highveld. Its preferred habitat are woodlands, especially where acacias are found.
They are fairly common birds and are usually to be found in pairs. Their call is a melodious “pee boo goo”, usually made from a conspicuous perch.
White-browed scrub-robins feed mainly on the ground where they typically run forward a short distance and then stop with an upwards tilt of the tail. They eat mostly invertebrates such as termites, beetles and caterpillars, crickets and grasshoppers.
White-browed scrub-robins are monogamous and the pairs remain together in their territory, which they defend vigorously, throughout the year. They build a deep cup-shaped nest of dry grass and small twigs, in which the female lays a clutch of two to four white eggs. The eggs hatch after an incubation period of approximately 12 days.
The scientific binomial for the White-browed scrub-robin is Cercotrichas leucophrys; Cercotrichas from the Greek for a “long-tailed thrush”, and leucophrys from the Greek for a “white-eyebrow”. Thus the name describes a long-tailed thrush with white eyebrows.
The White-browed scrub-robin, with a length of around 15 cm, is much the same size as the other scrub-robins and out in the field it is often necessary to look at the birds quite carefully to identify them with any certainty. The sexes are alike in both size and plumage colouration. The upper parts are light brown and they have conspicuous white eyebrows and two white wingbars; rump is orange- rufous; the tail blackish tipped with white; under parts are white, breast and sides streaked with black. Bill is black, eyes brown and legs and feet pinkish-grey.
The White-browed scrub-robin is quite common preferring woodlands and patches of acacia, and is usually found in pairs. In southern Africa its range is restricted to the wetter western part of the region, and it is also found outside the region as far north as Ethiopia.
It feeds mainly on insects and spiders, favouring termites and ants, foraging on the ground by running forward a few steps and flicking its tail as it pauses to pick at an insect. The White-browed scrub-robin also forages through piles of leaf-litter in its hunt for food.
The call of the White-browed scrub-robin, like that of the robins generally, is quite melodious, consisting of a series of whistled phrases. It often sings from a branch low down within a thicket and can be surprisingly hard to see even when it can be heard close-by.
White-browed scrub-robins are monogamous and construct a deep cup nest of grass lined with finer grass, often locating it in the grass at the base of a tree. The female lays a clutch of two to four white eggs that hatch after an incubation period of approximately 12 days.
The scientific binomial for the White-browed scrub-robin is Cercotrichas leucophrys; Cercotrichas from the Greek for a “long tailed thrush” and leucophrys from the Greek for “white eyebrow”. Thus a long tailed thrush with a white eyebrow, which is quite an apt description, as the scrub-robins were at one time classified as part of the thrush family.