Cape rockjumper

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Cape rockjumper
Cape Rock-Jumper.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Chaetopidae
Genus: Chaetops
Species: C. frenatus
Binomial name
Chaetops frenatus
(Temminck, 1826)

The Cape rockjumper or rufous rockjumper (Chaetops frenatus) is a medium-sized insectivorous passerine bird endemic to the mountain fynbos of southernmost South Africa.

This is a ground-nesting species which forages on rocky slopes and scree. It frequently perches on rocks. Breeding groups occupy 4–11 ha territories, and typically consist of a breeding pair and one or two additional individuals, usually offspring of the adult pair from the preceding breeding season. These helpers participate in territorial defence and alarm calling, and in the feeding of nestlings and fledglings of the breeding pair. Females also help with nest building and incubation.

This rockjumper is 23–25 cm long with a long black tail and strong legs. The male has a dark grey head with a thin white supercilium and a broad white moustache. The back and wings are dark grey, and the underparts and rump are rufous red.

The female and juvenile have a paler grey head, upperparts and wings, a duller head pattern, an orange rump, and buff underparts. The call is a loud wheeoo.

The closely related Drakensberg rockjumper, Chaetops aurantius, does not overlap in range. The male of that species has orange underparts, and the female and young are paler below than the rufous rock-jumper.

Illustration from the 1838 description.[2]


Chaetops aurantius was described in 1838 by Coenraad Jacob Temminck and Guillaume Michel Jérôme Meiffren Laugier in Volume 3 of Nouveau recueil de planches coloriées d'oiseaux.[2]

Some authorities (notably Dickinson and Christidis) treat the two rockjumpers as a single species, Chaetops frenatus, with two subspecies.[3]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Chaetops frenatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Temminck, Coenraad Jacob; Laugier, Guillaume Michel Jérôme Meiffren (1838). Nouveau recueil de planches coloriées d'oiseaux : pour servir de suite et de complément aux planches enluminées de Buffon. Retrieved 16 August 2017. 
  3. ^ Lepage, Denis. "Chaetops [frenatus or aurantius] (Rock Jumper) - Avibase". Retrieved 9 September 2017. 
  • Ian Sinclair, Phil Hockey and Warwick Tarboton, SASOL Birds of Southern Africa (Struik 2002) ISBN 1-86872-721-1
  • Richard T. Holmes, Bernhard D. Frauenknecht, Morné A. Du Plessis Breeding system of the Cape Rockjumper, a South African fynbos endemic, The Condor Volume 104, February 2002

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