|Common Stonechat Saxicola torquatus|
|The Stonechat breeds in western, central and southern Europe, much of Asia and in sub-Saharan Africa. It is
partly migratory with, for example, the more northerly breeding populations in Europe migrating to the Mediterranean Basin during the winter. See the
distribution map at Birdlife International.
Some authorities split this species into European Stonechat S. rubicola, Siberian Stonechat S. maurus, Stejneger's Stonechat S. stejnegeri, African Stonechat S. torquatus, Ethiopian Stonechat S. albofasciatus and Madagascar Stonechat S. sibilla but the HBW and Birdlife International checklist lumps all these together.
Its breeding habitat is open areas with scrubby, low vegetation such as heather or gorse.
|It feeds on insects and other invertebrates as well as
berries. It looks for its prey from a suitable high perch to which it often returns after capturing its prey.
Plumage is varied between sexes and throughout the year. The typical illustration of a male Stonechat shows a black head but this is the spring plumage. The 1st two photos here show a male in autumn plumage where pale fringes on the fresh plumage give a brown tinge to the head.
|The female in autumn, as seen in the 3rd photo, has a brown back with orange underparts and a pale supercilium on
a grey-brown head.
Photos 4 and 5 show, I believe, a 1st winter male.
Photos 6 and 7 were taken in Ireland in July.
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