African Stonechat

Saxicola torquatus

African Stonechats generally inhabit higher altitude grasslands with long, rank growth, though in South Africa they also occur down to sea level in suitable habitat, and especially so during the colder winter months. The African Stonechat has also adapted very well to large scale agriculture, though they avoid overgrazed areas. They feed mainly on small insects and other invertebrates. These are active little birds, only 13cm long and weighing only 12 – 17g.

African Stonechats are usually seen in pairs, and breeding occurs in spring and summer. Females build their nests of grass and softer material in the shape of a deep cup, usually positioned on the ground at the base of a bush or other plant providing good cover. Clutches, containing up to 6 eggs, are incubated only be the female for a period of two weeks, but both parents feed the chicks once they’ve hatched. Chicks leave the nest at about two weeks of age, and then stay with their parents for a further three weeks or so.

The African Stonechat is a common sight in South Africa, occurring all over the country with the exception of the arid interior of the Northern Cape Province. They are also patchily distributed over East and Central Africa, and is considered common throughout its range.

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