Karoo Chat

Emarginata (Cercomela) schlegelii

Surprisingly common for a bird occurring in arid scrubland and grasslands, often in rocky or gravelly places, the Karoo Chat subsists on a diet of insects foraged on the ground. They’re usually encountered singly, in pairs or small family groups and normally stay well clear of areas of human habitation, in contrast with its better known cousin, the Familiar Chat.

The female takes sole responsibility for building the deep cup-shaped nest, using twigs and sticks, at the base of a shrub, the task taking her about a week to complete. Clutches of 2-4 eggs may be laid at any time of year, especially in response to unseasonal rainfall, but nesting usually takes place in spring and summer. Pairs are monogamous and territorial throughout the year, and both parents take care of the chicks. Fully grown Karoo Chats measure around 17cm in length and weigh about 32g.

True to their habitat preference, Karoo Chats are found in south-west Angola, western Namibia and arid western South Africa (particularly in the Northern and Western Cape and marginally into the bordering Free State and Eastern Cape). The IUCN does not consider it to be of conservation concern.


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