European Stonechat

Saxicola torquata

القليعي المطوق

Status: Very common

The European Stonechat belongs to the Muscicapidae family in the Passeriformes order. It is 11-13 cm in size and 15 grams in weight. The male has a black head and throat, a white semi collar on the sides of the neck, an orange chest that goes also to the sides and a brown upper-tail. The female is plainer colored with less contrast. The throat is brownish-gray, and lacks the semi collar. After moulting in autumn, the feathers have light colored margins which give the neck a lighter appearance. The eastern Stonechat (with its 4 subspecies) is very similar to the Stonechat and was once considered a subspecies. It is however lighter in coloring, the orange areas of the chest are more limited and the white collar is broader. The Whinchat differs from the Stonechat due to its brown throat, its facial marking and the white color in the sides of its tail. The Stonechat can be found hunting insects in the grasslands, fields and scrub. They are known to fly swiftly from a view point directly to a potential prey, then return to the original spot, landing with a flicker of the tail or wings. In flight the white "shoulders" and rump are shown. The Stonechats hold territories as couples; each guarding from separate view points. They occasionally will spread and quiver their tail and wings. Apparently these movements that show off their colorful contrasting colors are signaling that the territory is taken. They separate during migration and pair with other mates. In following autumn they may share the territory again. The European Stonechat is common throughout Europe with stable populations in northern Africa, south and western Europe.  The central European population migrates to Middle East, north and southern Africa. The population is considered to be stable with an estimated 2-4.6 million couples in Europe alone.

International conservation status: LC

Regional conservation status: LC

Migratory behaviour: Winter

Sites: Beitillu, Umm at-Tut, Wadi Al-Quff nature reserves