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Very similar in plumage to common stonechat (Saxicola torquata). The male has black head, white collar and bright rufous chest patch. The back and wings are dark, with white on wing coverts and rump. The key differentiating feature from male common stonechat is the white inner webs of outer tail feathers which is visible when the bird spreads the tail in flight or while landing. Note that this may not be visible when the tail is folded. The female is very similar to female common stonechat, but is overall paler with duller rump, tail and wings.
Taxonomy and systematics
Considered monotypic though there are slight variations in plumage for birds from South Assam Hills (where the birds are darker and large billed) and Pakistan (where chest patch is more reddish). Though sympatric with common stonechat in its range, they do not intergrade.
Distribution and status
White-tailed stonechats are resident in suitable marshy habitats across plains in Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, North and Central and Eastern parts of India till South Assam Hills & Manipur. They prefer grasslands and marshy areas with tall grass, reeds and tamarisk. They also undertake local movements, based on water availability and possibly for breeding.
Behaviour and ecology
Typical of stonechats, they catch their prey by dropping to ground or making short sallies from their perch. They are generally found in loose pairs, rarely in singles.
Key breeding season is Mar-May when it makes a cup shaped nest in natural depressions on the ground among plants like lotuses or tamarisk.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Saxicola leucurus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Rasmussen PC & JC Anderton (2005). Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide. Volume 2. Smithsonian Institution & Lynx Edicions. pp. 403–404.
- Hem Sagar Baral (2004). "Status, distribution, ecology and behaviour of White-tailed Stonechat Saxicola leucura in Nepal with reference to Indian subcontinent". Newsletter for ornithologists. 1 (5): 66–67.
- Roberts, T. J. (1992). The birds of Pakistan Vol II. Oxford University Press, Karachi.
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