Common rock thrush

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Common rock thrush
male, Spain
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Muscicapidae
Genus: Monticola
M. saxatilis
Binomial name
Monticola saxatilis
(Linnaeus, 1766)
Range of M. saxatilis

Turdus saxatilis Linnaeus, 1766

The common rock thrush (Monticola saxatilis),[2] also known as rufous-tailed rock thrush or simply rock thrush, is a chat belonging to the family Muscicapidae. It was formerly placed in the family Turdidae. The scientific name is from Latin. Monticola is from mons, montis "mountain", and colere, "to dwell", and saxatilis means "rock-frequenting", from saxum, "stone" .[3]

It breeds in southern Europe across Central Asia to northern China. This species is strongly migratory, all populations wintering in Africa south of the Sahara. It is an uncommon visitor to northern Europe. Its range has contracted somewhat at the periphery in recent decades due to habitat destruction. For example, in the early 20th century it bred in the Jura Krakowsko-Częstochowska (Poland) where none occur today,[4] but it is not considered globally endangered.[1]


This is a medium-sized but stocky thrush 17–20 cm in length. The summer male is unmistakable, with a blue-grey head, orange underparts and outer tail feathers, dark brown wings and white back. Females and immatures are much less striking, with dark brown scaly upperparts, and paler brown scaly underparts. The outer tail feathers are reddish, like the male.[5]

Behaviour and ecology[edit]

This species breeds in open dry hilly areas, usually above 1500 m. It nests in rock cavities, laying 4–5 eggs. It is omnivorous, eating a wide range of insects, berries and small reptiles. The male common rock thrush has a clear and tuneful song.[5]



  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2017). "Monticola saxatilis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2017: e.T22708257A111788908. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-1.RLTS.T22708257A111788908.en. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
  2. ^ English Name Updates - IOC Version 2.9 (July 10, 2011) Archived March 3, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, IOC World Bird List
  3. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London, United Kingdom: Christopher Helm. pp. 260, 348. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4..
  4. ^ Tomek, Teresa & Bocheński, Zygmunt (2005): "Weichselian and Holocene bird remains from Komarowa Cave, Central Poland". Acta zoologica cracoviensia 48A(1-2): 43-65.
  5. ^ a b Clement, Peter & Hathaway, Ren (2000): Thrushes. Christopher Helm, London. ISBN 0-7136-3940-7

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