It is 15 to 16 cm (6 to 6.25 inches) long, stocky and relatively short-tailed for a chat. The adult male's plumage is glossy black except for white patches on the upper wings that are usually visible or only partly concealed (as in the photograph at upper right) when the bird is at rest. The female and young are very dark brown (Zimmerman, Turner, and Pearson 1999).
The song (in Kenya and northern Tanzania) is described as "prolonged, sweet and musical, sometimes given in flight, wee tewee tuweer, skwik-skueeeeer, cueee-eeeee-cuweeeeer, eee-euwee-tee, tseuwee-tew-skweeer-tsi-seet…." This species sometimes imitates other birds (Zimmerman, Turner, and Pearson 1999).
It occurs widely but discontinuously in African grasslands, from Senegal east to Kenya and south to Angola and Zambia. Its range is estimated at 3,400,000 km², and it is considered "frequent" in at least parts of that area (Birdlife International 2004).
- Zimmerman, Dale A., Donald A. Turner, and David J. Pearson (1999). Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania. Princeton University Press. pp. 198–199, 450. ISBN 0-691-01022-6.
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