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For the method of starting a power generating plant after a blackout, see Black start.
Blackstart-2006.01.04 m217.jpg
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Muscicapidae
Genus: Cercomela
Species: C. melanura
Binomial name
Cercomela melanura
(Temminck, 1824)

Oenanthe melanura

The blackstart (Cercomela melanura) is a chat found in desert regions in North Africa, the Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula.

It is a 14–16 cm long bird named for its black tail, which is frequently fanned; the rest of its plumage is bluish-grey or grey-brown (North African races being browner, Middle Eastern races bluer). The sexes are similar, but the male on average has blacker lores. The song is a clear melancholy whistle: CHURlee...TRUloo...CHURlee...TRUlur..., with short phrases from the song used as a call.

It is a species of rocky deserts and mountain slopes which nests in a rock crevice where it lays its 3–5 eggs. It feeds on insects, taken mainly on the ground.

The blackstart is a confident species, unafraid of man.

Detailed distribution[edit]

The blackstart is resident throughout its range.

  • In Jordan, the species is only found in western parts of the country, in areas from the Jordan River valley south through the Dead Sea region to the Arava Valley and Aqaba Mountains.


  • Andrews, Ian J. (1995) The Birds of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
  • Shirihai, Hadoram (1996) The Birds of Israel