Scientific name: Saxicola rubicola
The stonechat is named for its call, which sounds just like two small stones being hit together! It can be seen on heathland and boggy habitats.
Average lifespan: 4-5 years
Classified in the UK as Green under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2021).
When to seeJanuary to December
AboutA small, dumpy chat, the stonechat is a little smaller than a robin. It has a big head and short tail. It can frequently be seen sitting on the top of gorse bushes, flicking its wings and making a call like two small stones being hit together. Stonechats inhabit heaths, bogs and conifer plantations. They eat invertebrates, seeds and fruit, such as blackberries.
How to identifyMale stonechats have a black head, brown back, black throat with a white half-collar, and orange-red breast. Females and juveniles are paler. Darker than the similar whinchat, the stonechat does not have a pale eyestripe or pale patches at the base of the tail.
DistributionResident on heathland throughout the country. Can also be found around the coast and at wetlands during the winter.
Did you know?On heathland in the south of England, Dartford warblers can often be seen following stonechats around, perhaps catching the small insects that the larger bird disturbs.
The Wildlife Trusts are working to restore and protect our heathlands by ensuring breeding birds are not disturbed, promoting good management, clearing encroaching scrub and implementing beneficial grazing regimes. This work is vital if these habitats are to survive.