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A photo of a European Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola), male
European Stonechat, Male

European Stonechat

Saxicola rubicola

The European stonechat, Saxicola rubicola, is a small, charming passerine bird, once thought to be a member of the thrush family but now placed within the Old World flycatcher family, Muscicapidae. This species exhibits a striking sexual dimorphism, with males donning a black plumage with vibrant orange throats and females wearing a more subdued brown.

Identification Tips

Males in their summer plumage are unmistakable with their black heads, orange throats, and white bellies. They also sport a distinctive white half-collar and small white patches on the wings and rump. Females, on the other hand, are predominantly brown with less pronounced white wing patches. Both sexes have notably short wings, which are shorter than those of their migratory relatives.


The European stonechat favors heathlands, coastal dunes, and open grasslands dotted with shrubs, brambles, and heather. These habitats provide the perfect backdrop for their active foraging and breeding behaviors.


This species is widely distributed across Europe, reaching as far east as Ukraine and the South Caucasus, and can also be found in parts of North Africa.


Stonechats are known for their lively presence, often perching conspicuously as they keep a vigilant eye on their surroundings. They exhibit a partial migratory pattern, with some populations moving southward to escape the colder winters.

Song & Calls

The male stonechat's song is a delightful, high-pitched twitter, reminiscent of a dunnock's melody. Both sexes communicate with a distinctive call that evokes the sound of two stones being tapped together.


European stonechats are monogamous during the breeding season and commence their reproductive efforts at one year of age. They raise two to three broods per season, with the female constructing the nest and both parents tending to the young.

Similar Species

The European stonechat can be confused with the Siberian stonechat and the African stonechat, but genetic evidence supports their distinction as separate species.

Diet and Feeding

These birds are adept insectivores, gleaning a variety of invertebrates from their environment to sustain themselves and their offspring.

Conservation status

The European stonechat does not currently face any significant conservation threats and enjoys a stable population across its range.

European Stonechat Sounds

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European Stonechats on Birda


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