Medium-sized, strong-billed, long tailed, and sprightly chat, with posture frequently recalling Winter Wren.
Plumage essentially bright rufous to grey-brown above and buff-white below, with obvious pale supercilium, double wing-bar, and diagnostic orange-rufous tail tipped black and withe,
Flight chat-like in action but silhouette recalls large warbler. Sexes similar, no seasonal variation.
Breeds in dry middle and lower middle latitudes, in Mediterranean, steppe, and desert fringe zones, mainly in lowlands.
In N-W Africa, only natural habitat in uplands is in tamarisk and vegetation bordering wadis.
Not attracted to natural maquis and forest, and avoids both mountains and bare plains. More attracted by man-made habitats such as parks, orange groves, gardens, and groups of prickly pear. In steppes, favours areas planted with bushes and trees.
Saxicola rubetra is a widespread summer visitor to much of Europe, which constitutes
>75% of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is very large
(>5,400,000 pairs), and was stable between 1970-1990. Although the species declined
in many countries-notably Finland and Ukraine-during 1990-2000, the key
population in Russia was stable, with other sizeable populations such as Belarus,
Poland and Romania also stable or increasing, and the species probably declined
only slightly overall.
Mostly insects and earthworms, often rather large, occasionally fruit.
Feeding method varies with prey. Pursues ants, etc, on ground. Takes small Diptera and Hymenoptera from flowers, sometimes hovering to do so.
Locates earthworms by probing in soft ground, throwing earth aside with bill once worm found.
This species has a large global range; the total size has not yet been quantified, but the Extent of Occurrence in Africa alone is estimated to be 4,600,000 km². It has a large global population, including an estimated 11,000,000-21,000,000 individuals in Europe (BirdLife International in prep.). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from birdlife.org]
Nest site is situated in thick bush or low tree, often near trunk. Nest loosely constructed untidy structure of fine twigs, trasses, and rootlets, lined with vegetable down, wool, hair, and feathers, and often a piece of snake skin. Building by both sexes.3-5 eggs, incubation 13 days tended by female only.
Essentially a trans-Saharan migrant, wintering in tropical Africa, though also regularly in Algeria and Iraq; other wintering records north of Sahara are exceptional but widely scattered through Mediterranean basin and western seaboard of Europe north to Britain. Wintering range extends from Sénégal through Nigeria and Zaïre to Uganda, and uncommonly in Kenya and Tanzania, south to Malawi and Zambia.
Birds leave north European breeding grounds in late August and September, with peak numbers on passage in western Europe in early September. First arrivals at wintering sites are in mid- or late September. Return passage begins February-March, continuing into early May.
- spanwidth min.: 21 cm
- spanwidth max.: 24 cm
- size min.: 12 cm
- size max.: 14 cm
- incubation min.: 12 days
- incubation max.: 14 days
- fledging min.: 12 days
- fledging max.: 13 days
- broods 1
- eggs min.: 3
- eggs max.: 7
- Conservation Status