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Stonechat

Stonechat Male Stonechat Male
Black head, orange-red breast, dark brown upperparts, white patches on neck, wings and rump.
Distribution map - when and where you are most likely to see the species.
Saxicola torquata
Length: 12.5 cm (5")
Wing Span: 18-21 cm (7½-8½")
Weight: 14-17 g (½ oz) Female Stonechat Female
Similar to male but lacks black head and generally seems faded.
Breeding Pairs: 16 000
Present: All Year
Status: Green

Description

The Stonechat is similar to the Whinchat but is generally darker in appearance and looks less slender.

In the spring and summer, the male has a black head and orange-red underparts. The back and wings are dark brown. There are white patches on each side of its neck, rump and wings. At other times of the year the male is duller.

The female does not have a black head, the white neck patch is less distinct and the plumage looks generally faded compared with the male.

Unlike the Whinchat, Stonechats do not have a stripe above the eye (i.e. supercilium).

Juvenile plumage is similar to that of the female but duller.

Voice

Choose from Quicktime and mp3. Song Alarm Call
  Quicktime mp3 Quicktime mp3

Their grating song is similar to that of a Dunnock but shorter and scratchier.

The alarm call is the typical scolding "chak, chak" of a chat and sounds like two pebbles being crashed together.

Feeding

Stonechats are primarily insectivorous, feeding on caterpillars, moths, ants, spiders and flies, though they will also take worms and snails, and feed on seeds and berries in the autumn and winter.

Nesting

The Stonechat breeds on heath, moors, grassland, and wasteland that have some dense shrubs, such as gorse, in which it can build a nest. The female constructs the cup-shaped nest from grass and moss, and then lines it with hair, wool, and feathers.

The eggs are smooth, pale blue to greenish-blue and speckled with reddish-brown. They are incubated mostly by the female, but both birds look after the nestlings.

Breeding Data
Breeding Starts Number of Clutches Number of Eggs Incubation (days) Fledge (days)
Mar-Jun 1-3 3-8 14-15 12-13

Movements

Some British residents move to eastern coastal areas in the winter, while others fly south to the Mediterranean. The British winter population also includes birds from north-western continental Europe, e.g. Germany.

Conservation

The Stonechat was on the Amber List of Species of Conservation Concern owing to declines in the populations in Europe, but this is no longer the case. In Britain, the conservation of their heath habitat is important.

My Garden

None have been seen in or around our garden.


Last revision: 21 Feb 2015
Copyright © David Gains 1999-2017.
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