Stonechat

Saxícola torquata

TAXONOMY

Saxícola torquata Linnaeus, 1766. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Common stonechat; French: Traquet patre; German: Schwartzkehlchen; Spanish: Tarabilla Común.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

4.9 in (12.5 cm); 0.46-0.60 oz (13-17 g). Males have black heads, orange breasts, and large white patches on the sides of the neck. Females and juveniles have a similar plumage pattern, but have brown (rather than black) heads and less ponounced orange and white areas.

DISTRIBUTION

Britain and Ireland, Europe from Denmark south to Iberia and east to Black Sea, Middle East, locally Arabia; Asia east to Japan, south to China; scattered through Africa south to the Cape.

HABITAT

Heath and rough grassland with thorny scrub, young plantations, forest clearings with bushy undergrowth, open coastal strip above rocky shore and cliffs.

BEHAVIOR

In pairs or family groups, perching on open bush tops or tall stems, overhead wires, giving frequent harsh, scolding calls.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Insects and other small invertebrates.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Monogamous and territorial; nest on or close to ground in dense vegetation, well hidden, sheltered from sun, loosely woven from grass stems, with entrance tunnel; four to six eggs incubated for 13-14 days by female; fledging period 13 days.

CONSERVATION STATUS Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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