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Did You Know? 15 Incredible Blackthroat Facts

Fun blackthroat facts for kids.

The Old World flycatchers are a part of a large and diverse family- the Muscicapidae, which is made of small-sized passerine birds whose range occupies Europe, Africa, and Asia. These birds are insectivores, and just like their name suggests forage while flying. There are about 324 species in this family which are further divided into 51 genera. This article will tell everything you need to know about a special species from Muscicapidae- the blackthroat (Calliope obscura), including details about its plumage, vocalizations, distribution, range, habitat choice, nesting, and conservation status!

The blackthroat (Calliope obscura), commonly known as the black-throated robin or black-throated blue robin is a small and rare passerine bird, that is native to Northern and Central China and a vagrant visitor to northwest Thailand. The species was first discovered, described, and introduced by the Russian ornithologists Valentin Lvovich Bianchi, and Michail Michailowitsch Berezovski in 1891. Even after its discovery, for over a century only a few individuals birds were spotted by people. Even today coming across a black-throated robin is very rare, especially the female species. Because these birds are so secretive and hard to find, they earned the titles 'Asia's most enigmatic robin', and 'the most enigmatic Chinese passerine bird'.

Learn about some other birds from our Rufous-backed robin facts and Cape may warbler facts pages.

Blackthroat Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a blackthroat?

A blackthroat is a bird belonging to the Animalia kingdom.

What class of animal does a blackthroat belong to?

A blackthroat (Calliope obscura) belongs to the Aves class and the Passeriformes order.

How many blackthroats are there in the world?

The population size of the blackthroat (Calliope obscura) species is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature individuals.

Where does a blackthroat live?

The blackthroat (Calliope obscura) breeds in the mountains of western China, the Qinling Mountains, Shaanxi province. Until recently, it was known only from a handful of scattered records from Sichuan, Gansu, and Shaanxi, together with several presumed non-breeding records from southern China and northern Thailand. Seven males were recorded at the Foping and Changqing National Nature Reserves in 2012. Three previously unknown specimens of this species that were spotted in Gansu, have recently been identified and described. 

What is a blackthroat's habitat?

The blackthroat habitat includes the large, dense expanses of bamboo thickets in Gansu, temperate forests in Sichuan, mountain slopes at Shaanxi, coniferous and mixed coniferous forests. The vagrants in Thailand inhabit areas at altitudes from 1,312-7,874 ft (400–2,400 m).

Who do blackthroats live with?

These enigmatic Chinese passerine birds are solitary and live on their own, except when they are engaged in the breeding and nesting cycle. They live in their territories and migrate within their range in pairs or small flocks during winter.

How long do blackthroats live?

A blackthroat (Calliope obscura) lives up to two years in the wild.

How do they reproduce?

As these birds are extremely rare and threatened little is known about their mating and breeding habits. But, they are quite popular for nesting in all kinds of unlikely, odd, and strange locations. The nest is cup or bowl-shaped and is built by the female alone, it is made of dead leaves, moss, dry grass, thin twigs, and lined with finer materials like hair. A female bird lays about four to five eggs in a single clutch, with one egg laid each day, this way if there is a shortage of food the older hatchlings are fed and given priority to increasing their survival rate. The eggs are usually laid early in the morning. The incubation period lasts for 11-13 days and is done by females alone, and the young chicks are looked after and taken care of by males for three or four weeks, while the female prepares herself for the next nesting effort, as they have two broods in a year. These birds scare away easily and are extremely sensitive during the nest building and egg-laying period and will simply abandon their nests if disturbed. Woodrats often prey on their eggs.

What is their conservation status?

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has classified the species as Vulnerable to potential extinction. They are threatened by the loss and dispersal of their natural habitats.

Blackthroat Fun Facts

What do blackthroats look like?

Blackthroats are beautiful birds, despite their odd, dark, and dull plumage. They are small to medium-sized, skulking birds. They have a black throat, breast, and nape, dull, blue-black upperparts, and pale gray or white underparts, a dark brown-black tail, but the outer feathers have white edges. Both sexes are identical except males have dark gray legs, and feet, whereas females have paler pinkish legs, and buffish underparts. Blackthroats look similar to the Siberian blue robin species, and the blue rock thrush species.

*We've been unable to source an image of a blackthroat and have used an image of Siberian blue robin instead. If you are able to provide us with a royalty-free image of a blackthroat, we would be happy to credit you. Please contact us at [email protected]

Fun facts about the blackthroat for kids.

How cute are they?

Blackthroats look extremely cute despite their dark plumage.

How do they communicate?

Blackthroats communicate via vocalizations and occasionally use body language. Their song is extremely important as the song marks their territories and is used to attract females during the breeding season. Besides their song they also produce various sounds like shrill cries (whr'ri-whr'ri), whistles (chu'ti-chu'ti ), howls (uu ji'uu), and soft subdued notes. When they feel threatened or stressed, they puff their bodies to appear bigger and intimidating.

How big is a blackthroat?

Blackthroats grow up to 4.9-5.7 in (12.5-14.5 cm) in size. They are smaller than hawks and eagles, but larger than hummingbirds.

How fast can a blackthroat fly?

Blackthroats can fly up to 20-36 mph (32.1-57.9 kph).

How much does a blackthroat weigh?

These birds weigh around 0.5-0.7 oz (16-22 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

No separate names have been attributed to the male and female birds of the species. They are simply denoted as males and females.

What would you call a baby blackthroat?

A baby blackthroat is called a chick.

What do they eat?

The blackthroat (Calliope obscura) feeds on water beetles, bugs, spiders, earthworms, and other small insects. It also occasionally eats fruit, seeds, crushed peanuts, sunflower hearts, grains, and raisins. Its favorite food just might be mealworms.

They are often preyed upon by snakes, wild and domestic cats.

Are they dangerous?

No, these birds are not dangerous as they scare away easily.

Would they make a good pet?

No, as the species is classified as Vulnerable, they are best left in the wild with their kind, or at nature reserves.

Did you know...

Despite being highly territorial, these birds do not disturb the nests of other bird species in their territory. Their parental instincts are highly developed, which is why they often feed the chicks or hatchlings of other species as well. The most regular recipients of this unexpected care are song thrush birds, blackbirds, spotted flycatchers, and willow warblers.

The species was formerly placed in the genus Luscinia, later after a molecular phylogenetic study was published in 2010, the genus was split and several species were moved to the new or re-established genus Calliope.

Is it endemic?

Yes, these birds are found only in China, and sometimes in Thailand.

The blackthroat's throat

Unlike any other birds belonging to the Muscicapidae family, blackthroats just like their name implies have unique and one-of-a-kind black throat.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our European robin facts or Hawaiian honeycreeper facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable blackthroat coloring pages.

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