Sickle-winged chat

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Sickle-winged chat
Sicklewing Chat - Natal - South Africa S4E7178 (18784333814).jpg
in Natal, South Africa
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Muscicapidae
Genus: Emarginata
Species: E. sinuata
Binomial name
Emarginata sinuata
(Sundevall, 1858)

Cercomela sinuata

The sickle-winged chat or sicklewing chat (Emarginata sinuata) is a small passerine bird of the Old World flycatcher family Muscicapidae endemic to southern Africa. It is a common resident breeder in South Africa and Lesotho, and is also found in southernmost areas of Botswana and Namibia. Its habitat is Karoo scrub, short grassland, and barren sandy or stony areas. In western coastal areas, it also occurs on agricultural land.


The first formal description of the sickle-winged chat was by the Swedish zoologist Carl Jakob Sundevall in 1858 under the binomial name Luscinia sinuata.[2][3] The species was subsequently placed in the genus Cercomela introduced by Charles Lucien Bonaparte in 1856.[4] It was moved to the current genus, Emarginata, after molecular phylogenetic studies published in 2010 and 2012 found that Cercomela was polyphyletic.[5][6][7] The specific epithet sinuata is the Latin for "curved".[8]

There are 3 subspecies:[7]

  • E. s. hypernephela (Clancey, 1956) – Lesotho
  • E. s. ensifera (Clancey, 1958) – southern Namibia, western and central South Africa
  • E. s. sinuata (Sundevall, 1858) – southern South Africa


The sickle-winged chat is around 15 cm (5.9 in) in length and weighs 17–20 g (0.60–0.71 oz).[9] Its upperparts are dark grey, but it has brown wings and a rufous patch behind the eye. The tail and rump are buff-pink, with an inverted wedge of black at the end of the tail. Its underparts are off-white, the short straight bill, legs and feet are black and the eye is brown. The sexes are similar, but the juvenile has buff tips to its feathers.

The contrast between the dark upperparts and the much paler underparts distinguish this species from the more uniformly coloured familiar chat. It also has the pale salmon-buff on the rump extending only onto the base of the tail, whereas the familiar chat has a richer hue which almost reaches the tip of the tail.

The sickle-winged chat has a chak-chak call and a warbled song.


The sickle-winged chat builds a cup-shaped nest of straw and leaves on the ground, usually under a bush or shrub. It lays two to four green or blue eggs.[9] This species is monogamous.

The sickle-winged chat is usually seen singly or in pairs. It forages on the ground or at the base of trees for insects.

In comparison with the familiar chat, it spends more time on the ground and runs more swiftly. It flicks its wings, but less frequently than the familiar chat.

Conservation status[edit]

This common species has a large range, with an estimated extent of 850,000 km2. The population size is believed to be large, and the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern.[1]


  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2012). "Emarginata sinuata". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Mayr, Ernst; Paynter, Raymond A. Jr, eds. (1964). Check-list of Birds of the World. Volume 10. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Museum of Comparative Zoology. p. 97. 
  3. ^ Sundevall, Carl Jakob (1858). "Kritish framstallning af fogelarterna uti äldre ornithologiska arbeten". Kungl. Svenska vetenskapsakademiens handlingar (in Swedish). Bd 2 (3): 44 note. 
  4. ^ Mayr, Ernst; Paynter, Raymond A. Jr, eds. (1964). Check-list of Birds of the World. Volume 10. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Museum of Comparative Zoology. p. 96. 
  5. ^ Outlaw, R.K.; Voelker, G.; Bowie, R.C.K. (2010). "Shall we chat? Evolutionary relationships in the genus Cercomela (Muscicapidae) and its relation to Oenanthe reveals extensive polyphyly among chats distributed in Africa, India and the Palearctic". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 55 (1): 284–292. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2009.09.023. 
  6. ^ Aliabadian, M.; Kaboli, M.; Förschler, M.I.; Nijman, V.; Chamani, A.; Tillier, A.; Prodon, R.; Pasquet, E.; Ericson, P.G.P.; Zuccon, D. (2012). "Convergent evolution of morphological and ecological traits in the open-habitat chat complex (Aves, Muscicapidae: Saxicolinae)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 65 (1): 35–45. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2012.05.011. 
  7. ^ a b Gill, Frank; Donsker, David (eds.). "Chats, Old World flycatchers". World Bird List Version 7.2. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 3 May 2017. 
  8. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 357. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4. 
  9. ^ a b Collar, N. "Sickle-winged Chat (Emarginata sinuata)". In del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J.; Christie, D.A.; de Juana, E. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions. Retrieved 1 October 2016. (Subscription required (help)). 

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