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Thrushes and Chats: Turdidae - Stonechat (saxicola Torquata): Species Accounts

stonechats live nests close

Physical characteristics: The stonechat has a length of 4.9 inches (12.5 centimeters) with a weight of 0.46 to 0.6 ounces (13 to 17 grams). The males have black heads with orange breasts, and white patches on the sides of the neck that cover a large area. The females and young birds are similar in appearance, and have brown heads as well as less pronounced shades of orange and white.


Geographic range: The stonechat can be found throughout Britain and Ireland; in Europe from Denmark south to the Iberian peninsula and east to the Black Sea; in the Middle East; in certain local areas of Arabia; in Japan and China; and scattered throughout the southern parts of Africa. Some have been spotted in spring and summer as far north as Alaska.


Habitat: Stonechats prefer to live in rough grassland with thorny scrub, as well as in recently cultivated areas, forest clearings with bushy undergrowth, and along open coastal areas above rocky shores and cliffs.

Diet: Stonechats tend to be carnivores, feeding on insects and other small invertebrates.


Behavior and reproduction: Stonechats live in pairs or family groups, perching on open bush tops or on the stems of tall grasses, as well as on overhead wires. They are known for their frequent and harsh calls that sound like scoldings. In breeding, they are monogamous and territorial. They build their nests close to the ground in dense growth, and keep them hidden and sheltered from the sun. Their nests are built from grass stems with an entrance tunnel. The female lays four to six eggs, incubating them for thirteen to fourteen days. Newly hatched young grow their flight feathers after thirteen days.


Stonechats and people: Stonechats have no special significance to humans.


Stonechats live in pairs or family groups, and build their nests close to the ground in dense growth, to keep them hidden and sheltered from the sun. (Illustration by Barbara Duperron. Reproduced by permission.)

Conservation status: Stonechats are not considered threatened. ∎

Thrushes and Chats: Turdidae - American Robin (turdus Migratorius): Species Accounts [next] [back] Thrushes and Chats: Turdidae - Eastern Bluebird (sialia Sialis): Species Accounts

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