[hwin-chat, win-]

The Whinchat, Saxicola rubetra, is a small passerine bird that was formerly classed as a member of the thrush family Turdidae, but is now more generally considered to be an Old World flycatcher, Muscicapidae. It, and similar small European species, are often called chats.

It is a migratory insectivorous species breeding in open rough pasture or similar uncultivated grassland in Europe and Asia. It nests in tussocks. All birds winter in Africa.

The Whinchat is similar in size to the European Robin. Both sexes have a yellowish rump and white tail, with a black terminal band. The summer male has brownish upperparts, buff throat and blackish head sides. It has a strong white supercilium. There are white wing patches.

The female has pale brown head sides, a buff supercilium and no white wing patches.

The male has a whistling, crackly song. Its call is a typical chat “chack” noise or a soft whistle.

Bracken is a preferred habitat for this species.

This species represents a fairly basal divergence of the genus Saxicola (Wink et al. 2002).


  • Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
  • Wink, M.; Sauer-Gürth, H. & Gwinner, E. (2002): Evolutionary relationships of stonechats and related species inferred from mitochondrial-DNA sequences and genomic fingerprinting. British Birds 95: 349-355. PDF fulltext

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