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A photo of a Chinese Rubythroat (Calliope tschebaiewi), male
Chinese Rubythroat, Male

Chinese Rubythroat

Calliope tschebaiewi

The Chinese rubythroat, Calliope tschebaiewi, is a small, elusive passerine bird that graces the family Muscicapidae with its presence. The male of the species is particularly striking, with a slaty brown back, a white forehead, and a supercilium that stands out against its plumage. Its wings carry a brownish hue, while the tail is a darker blackish shade adorned with white at the base and tips. The male's throat and breast sides are cloaked in black, with a vibrant scarlet center on the chin and throat, each black feather finely edged in grey. The belly and vent are a clean white. The female, in contrast, is more subdued in coloration, presenting a brownish grey above with a less distinct supercilium and smoky underparts. Her throat center is whitish, complemented by a short moustachial stripe of the same color.

Identification Tips

When identifying the Chinese rubythroat, look for the male's distinctive white tail markings and the brilliant scarlet patch on its throat. The female is more cryptic but can be recognized by her diffuse supercilium and the whitish center of her throat.

Habitat

This species favors open woodland and scrub as its natural habitat, thriving in areas that offer a blend of cover and open space.

Distribution

The Chinese rubythroat can be found along the Himalayan ranges, with its range extending from Pakistan to Myanmar. It is a bird of Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, with sightings reported in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, and Thailand.

Behaviour

The Chinese rubythroat is known for its shy demeanor, often seen alone or in pairs during the breeding season. It is a bird that prefers to keep to itself, though males may occasionally perch in the open, especially when singing.

Song & calls

The male's song is a series of squeaky notes, rich in variation and performed from an exposed perch throughout the day. Females communicate with an upward inflected whistle that follows a short, gruff note. When alarmed, they emit a sharp, yapping call, described as "skyap."

Breeding

Breeding takes place in the summer, with nests constructed in shrubs near dense stands of trees or sometimes on the ground within dense tussocks. The nests can be loose, ball-like structures with a side entrance or more open cup-like forms. The female primarily builds the nest, laying a clutch of 4 to 6 greenish blue eggs adorned with rusty spots. Incubation is mostly her responsibility, but both parents feed the nestlings. After approximately 14 days of incubation, the eggs hatch, and the fledglings leave the nest after about 16 days.

Similar Species

The Chinese rubythroat was once considered conspecific with the Himalayan rubythroat, but it can be distinguished by its white tail-tips and white tail bases, which the Siberian rubythroat lacks.

Diet and Feeding

Its diet consists mainly of small insects, including beetles and ants. During the breeding season, the parents forage close to the nest, providing their young with a diet rich in hairy caterpillars.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List currently classifies the Chinese rubythroat as Least Concern, indicating that, for now, this species does not face any immediate threat of extinction.

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Chinese Rubythroats on Birda

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Hemant Kirola
02 Dec 2023 - 7:35am
India

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