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Species Guide

Boulder Chat

Pinarornis plumosus

The Boulder Chat, Pinarornis plumosus, presents itself as a robust chat, measuring a notable 25 cm in length. Its plumage is a brownish-black, accented with white tips on the outer tail feathers. When in flight, one can observe a series of small white spots adorning the edge of the primary and secondary coverts.

Identification Tips

Males and females are similar in appearance, though the female may exhibit a slightly less vibrant plumage. The white markings on the tail and wings are key identifiers, particularly noticeable when the bird takes to the skies.


This species is a denizen of the well-wooded savanna, favoring the presence of large granite boulders or scree. It is particularly associated with miombo woodlands.


The Boulder Chat is native to Southern Africa, with its range encompassing Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Notably, there are distinct populations in western Botswana and southern Zimbabwe, northeastern Zimbabwe extending into western Mozambique, and eastern Zambia up the Luangwa valley into Malawi.


The Boulder Chat is often observed around large boulders, exhibiting a behavior of running and bounding on the ground. It has a characteristic habit of cocking its tail over its back.


Breeding season sees eggs laid from September to January, peaking in October and November. Post-breeding, the family units remain together until the subsequent breeding season.

Conservation Status

The IUCN has classified the Boulder Chat as Least Concern. However, there is some concern regarding habitat loss, particularly due to the encroachment of the invasive weed Lantana camara.

In the voice of David Attenborough: "In the vast savannas of Southern Africa, amidst the ancient granite boulders, the Boulder Chat makes its home. With its distinctive plumage and characteristic behaviors, it is a bird that captures the essence of the wild landscapes it inhabits."

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Boulder Chats on Birda

A map showing the sighting location
Terry Fenn
21 Jan 2023 - 6:40am

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