Stonechat

Stonechat

Scientific name: Saxicola rubicola

Did you know: The stonechat, a charming bird found across the UK, is named after its unique call which resembles the sound of two stones being tapped together.

What Do Stonechats Look Like? (how to identify them)

Stonechats are small, perky birds slightly smaller than robins. They boast a large head, short tail, and distinctive colouring. Males have a brown back, striking black head, and a black throat bordered by a whitish half-collar. Their breast is a vivid orange-red. 

In contrast, females and young birds are paler, lacking the males’ stark colour contrasts. The stonechat is darker in colour than a whinchat and lacks the whinchat’s pale eyestripe and tail patches.

Differences Between Male And Female Stonechats

Male stonechats are distinguished by their black heads and throats, brown backs, and orange-red breasts. 

Females, on the other hand, are more subdued in colour, with paler, brownish tones. This distinction makes it easier for birdwatchers to differentiate between the sexes in the wild.

What Do Stonechats Eat?

Stonechats have a varied diet consisting mainly of invertebrates like insects, beetles, ants, and spiders. They also enjoy seeds and fruits, particularly during the colder months. This adaptability in diet helps them thrive in various habitats.

Where Do Stonechats Live? (inc. migration info)

Stonechats are a common sight on heathlands and bogs across the UK. Remarkably adaptable, they can also be found in conifer plantations, coastal areas, and wetlands. 

While many stonechats are residents, some migrate to Southern parts of Europe and North Africa. The bird’s range has been expanding, especially during winter, now covering a significant part of the UK.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Stonechats)

The stonechat’s call is its namesake, sounding much like two stones being clinked together. This distinct sound makes them easy to identify even without visual cues. Their song, while less known, is a high, twittering melody reminiscent of a dunnock.

Fun Stonechat Facts (kid friendly)

  • Stonechats can be seen all year round in the UK.
  • They are named after their unique call, which sounds like stones being knocked together.
  • The male stonechat’s bright orange-red breast makes it one of the more colourful birds in its habitat.
  • Stonechats build their nests near the ground, hidden in dense vegetation.
  • They lay 4-6 blue-green eggs with reddish spots.

Facts About The Stonechat

Diet: Invertebrates, seeds and fruit (e.g. blackberries).
Bird Family: Chats
Length: 12.5cm
Wingspan: 18-21cm
Weight: 13-17g
Scientific Name: Saxicola rubicola

The Stonechat Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

Stonechat Images

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Male
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Female
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Hatchling
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Nestling
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Chick
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Fledgling
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Juvenile