Overall, the male is black above and white below, but also with a white supercilium (sometimes absent), half-collar, and greater covert patch, and a variable-sized orange patch on the breast. Females differ from males in being browner above, more buff-toned below, and often lacking the white greater covert patch. The white throat and (usually white) supercilium are the most prominent external differences from the African stonechat S. torquatus, which has a wholly black head including the throat and supercilium.
Taxonomy and etymology
It is a member of the common stonechat superspecies, but it is distinct, together with its closest relative the Madagascan stonechat S. sibilla being insular derivatives of the African stonechat. Its ancestors probably diverged from the sub-Saharan African lineage as it spread across the continent some 2-2.5 mya during the Late Pliocene.
The etymology of the scientific name is from Saxicola, "rock-dweller", from Latin saxum, a rock + incola, dwelling in; and tectes, onomatopoetic New Latin after the species' call, from the Réunion Creole name tec-tec.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Saxicola tectes". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Urquhart, E., & Bowley, A. (2002): Stonechats. A Guide to the Genus Saxicola. Christopher Helm, London. ISBN 0-7136-6024-4
- Woog, F., Wink, M., Rastegar-Pouyani, E., Gonzalez, J., & Helm, B. (2008). Distinct taxonomic position of the Madagascar stonechat (Saxicola torquatus sibilla) revealed by nucleotide sequences of mitochondrial DNA. J. Ornithol. 149: 423–430. Full text
- Wink, M.; Sauer-Gürth, H. & Gwinner, E. (2002): Evolutionary relationships of stonechats and related species inferred from mitochondrial-DNA sequences and genomic fingerprinting. British Birds 95: 349-355. PDF fulltext
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