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Common Stonechat

Saxicola torquata (Linnaeus, 1766)

Черноголовый чекан | Қарабас шақшақ
spring male

2014-06-28
© Alexey Maznitsin

Description

Stonechat is the small less than sparrow bird. On constitution it is similar to Whinchat but a bit lesser and has longer tail and more round head. Spring male has the black head with the white collar, the reddish-rufous breast and the white or light-buffy rump. Female is buffy-rufous with the some darker upperparts. Female distinguishes on Whinchat female by a bit exposes of light supersilium, has not light patches on the tail's sides and has buffy or light-rufous color on the rump and the uppertail looking as a light patch. Juveniles on first plumage are similar to female but more dappled with light buffy streaks on crown, back and wings and with dark spots on underparts. Autumn males and juveniles are similar to females, but males have the white with rufous spots uppertail, more light than on females. As the Whinchat it has white patch on the shoulders part on all plumages but it has not white spots on the tail's sides. The rump and the uppertail are lighter that back. The tail is frequently fanned. Weight 11-18 grams, length about 12-13, wing 6,7-7,4, wingspan 18-21 sm.

Distribution

Several races of the Stonechat live in different parts of Europe, Asia and Africa. It is common or numerous bird in most parts of the range. In Kazakhstan it breeds widespread except waterless areas of Trans-Caspian and Trans-Aral deserts. In the mountains breeds up to 3000 meters. Please see the detailed distribution in Kazakhstan in the chapter "Subspecies".

Biology

Abundant, in places common breeding migrant. Inhabits open meadow and steppe places with bushes and height grass, edges of riparian and deciduous forest, kitchen-gardens on plains, and easy mountain slopes with some bushes and height grass up to 2300 m in Altai and 3000-3200 m in Tien Shan. In southern areas appears in March – early April in loose flocks of 15-25 birds. Majority of birds migrate in April. In northern areas and in mountains arrives in April – mid-May. Breeds in separate pairs not far one from another. Nest is built on ground under bush, grass or stone from dry grass lined with hair and feathers. Only female builds nest, male escorts her. Clutches of 3-6 eggs found in end April – late June. Female incubates for 11-14 days. Both parents feed juveniles which fledge at 12 days old in early June – end July. The long breeding period is explained by the large latitude of distribution, the belated phenology in the highlands, the repeated breeding after the loss of the first nest, and the probable two breeding cycles on plains. Autumn migration in highlands is on early in late July – August, latest birds recorded in end August. On plains basic migration is in late August – first half of September, latest birds observed in mid-October.

Subspecies

Saxicola torquata variegata (S.G.Gmelin, 1774)

    Description. At males the white color on the tail feathers is widely dispersed. Birds of western population of this race have tail feathers with white color from the basis to about middle of the length or a little less. Birds of east population have black color only on distal half of the central pair of tail feathers and on tips of the other ones. Upper tail coverts are white. Abdomen is lighter than at other races. The largest dispersal of the white color on tail feathers is peculiar to population of northern coast of Caspian Sea and Volga and Ural deltas.
    Distribution. Breeds and occurs on migration on northern coast of Caspian Sea.

Saxicola torquata maura (Pallas, 1773)

    Description. At males the tail feathers are black with a bit dispersal of white color on the base (sometimes white color is almost absent and in this case tail feathers are wholly black with some lightening on base only). Upper tail coverts are white (with the buffy tips in fresh plumage). The least dispersal of the white color on tail feathers (sometimes complete disappearance) is peculiar to the birds of Central Asia.
    Distribution. Breeds in northern and eastern Kazakhstan, from the middle current of Ural river up to Altai. In the south to Ayryuk Mt. in Mugodzhary ridge, Irgiz valley, lower current of Turgay and Chu rivers (however recently not found here), Dzhungarskiy Alatau, Talasskiy Alatau and Ugamskiy ridge. On migration occurs throughout exclude Volga-Ural area, Mangyshlak and Ustyurt.

References

В.К.Рябицев. "Птицы Урала, Приуралья и Западной Сибири". Екатеринбург, Изд-во Уральского университета, 2000. Э.И.Гаврилов. "Фауна и распространение птиц Казахстана". Алматы, 1999. Gavrilov E. I., Gavrilov A. E. "The Birds of Kazakhstan". Almaty, 2005. А.Ф.Ковшарь "Певчие птицы". Алма-Ата, "Кайнар", 1983.

supplement

subspecies

Saxicola torquata variegata
(S.G.Gmelin, 1774)
information gallery
Saxicola torquata maura
(Pallas, 1773)
information gallery

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