Stonechat Bird (Saxicola Torquata) Introduction


The stonechat bird typically perches on a bush of gorse to watch for its prey, dropping down to seize it before returning to its perch to eat. The poet William Wordsworth, a keen observer of nature, described this animated behaviour in his poem “Addressed To A Young Lady”:

…By lichens grey, and scant moss o’ergrown;
Where scarce the foxglove peeps, or thistle’s beard;
And restless stone-chat all day long is heard.

Bird History

Unfortunately, the stonechat bird population has been declining in recent years. Dependent on a diet of insects, spiders and worms, it is particularly vulnerable to two separate threats — intensive farming methods, and harsh winter seasons — both of which can remove its food sources and severely affect numbers.

Although local populations can recover from the occasional fierce winter, the use of pesticides and the destruction of its wild country habitat by farmers and builders are more persistent threats to the bird. The stonechat is increasingly confined to softer coastal regions, which are milder and relatively safe from development and reclamation.

Stonechat Bird Information and Facts



The male stonechat bird has black-brown back, head and eye, white patch on side of neck; a beige belly with a rust-red breast; thin black legs. Flight reveals pale rump and white bar on wing, pale rump. Female stonechat bird and juvenile have mottled brown and black head and back; juvenile has mottled brown and beige belly and chest.


The bird size is around 12cm or 4 inches.


Rasping whit-chat from high pitches, and short bursts of a whistling high-pitched warble in flight.

Stonechat bird habitat

This bird is an habitant of heathland, both inland and above coastal cliffs.


All year throughout Britain and Ireland, especially on coasts; rare in Eastern England.


Similar Species

The stonechat bird may not be confused with the whinchat, a summer-only visitor, which is slightly larger and slimmer; both male and female whinchats have a whitish eyebrow and browner back and head; and the robin, another redbreast of course but of much bolder orange-red which extends to the face; and the robin’s upperparts are brown, not black.

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