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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 12, 2021

21 Whinchat Facts You’ll Never Forget

Whinchat facts are about this small migratory bird.

Whinchat is a small bird species and the whinchat is also known by its scientific name Saxicola rubetra. Their scientific name Saxicola derives from a Latin word meaning 'small rock dweller' referring to its habitat. The whinchat (Saxicola rubetra) is a species endemic to Europe but is also found in Asia and Africa during winter. Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra) birds are migratory and travel from Europe to Africa during winters to be able to find appropriate food and shelter. They travel back to Europe in the summer. They belong to the family Muscicapidae however, in the past it was classified under the family Turdidae.

Whinchats are carnivorous birds and feed on spiders, snails, and worms. The whinchat is often confused with the European stonechat, however, they are slightly different if observed closely. The whinchat is classified as a Least Concern species by the International Union For Conservation Of Nature (IUCN). Females and males are similar in appearance, while juveniles are similar in appearance to females.

For more relatable content, check out these fact files on willow warbler and chipping sparrow.

Whinchat Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a whinchat?

The whinchat is a type of bird that belongs to the kingdom Animalia and order Passeriformes.

What class of animal does a whinchat belong to?

The whinchat is a type of bird that belongs to class Aves, family Muscicapidae, and genus Saxicola.  

How many whinchats are there in the world?

There are 17,200,000-28,500,000 whinchat individuals. Their distribution is primarily found in Europe, Africa, and Asia.

Where does a whinchat live?

Whinchat birds live in grasslands, pastures, and hilltops. They are seen in Europe, Asia, and Africa. They migrate from Europe to Africa during winters and they travel back during the summer months.  

What is a whinchat's habitat?

The whinchat habitat range constitutes grasslands, pastures, and hilltops. They prefer residing in areas where there is an abundance of insects for them to feed on. In winters, they frequent between open grasslands with patches of stunted scrub.

Who do whinchats live with?

Whinchats are mostly solitary beings and come together during the breeding season. They form groups during the breeding season to raise their young.

How long does a whinchat live?

A whinchat may live up to five years old. The lifespan of the whinchat species depends on various factors including their diet, habitat, and environment.

How do they reproduce?

The whinchat bird begins breeding when they are one year old. The breeding season takes place from mid-April to early August. Breeding begins from April to August and they build nests on the ground. Their nest resembles a cup-shaped structure made using leaves and moss lined with materials. Male and female birds mate and reproduce sexually. Female lays two to seven eggs per clutch and the eggs are pale-colored with reddish-brown markings. The female is more involved in raising its young. Incubation lasts 12-15 days and fledging occurs 13-14 days post-hatching. The young chick continues to depend on the female for few more weeks before it leaves the nest. They may raise one to two broods per season.

What is their conservation status?

Whinchat birds of the world are classified as a Least Concern species by the IUCN. Their distribution is seen in the European range and they migrate to Africa to escape winters.

Whinchat Fun Facts

What do whinchats look like?

Whinchat identification is easy as long as they are observed closely. They are small-sized birds and their wingspan is 8.66-9.05 in (22-23 cm). Whinchat birds have a blackish crown with a streaked buff. A narrow white line extends from the chin to neck sides and they have dark brown eyes. They have a short tail at the end of their body and the short tail is black with white bases. Their underparts, throat, and breast are orange to rufous with white on the breast, belly, and undertail coverts. Their bill, legs, and feet are black. A female bird is similar in appearance to the male, however, they are duller in appearance. A male bird has a more distinct pattern compared to female birds which are more pale. Juvenile birds resemble females with an overall brown plumage and a short tail.

Whinchat birds have an overall buff with white streaks and a brown plumage.

How cute are they?

They are an extremely cute and adorable bird species found predominantly in the European range but also in Africa. They are not extremely sociable, and their instant response to any danger is their flight instinct. They derive their name 'whin-chat' from their calls which resemble a sort of chat.

How do they communicate?

A whinchat bird is identified by its scolding 'whu-tek-tek' or 'tek-tek' which is usually an alarm or contact call which resembles a chat. They also communicate via songs. Whinchat songs are mostly abrupt, short, and fast. They also sing melodious to scratchy notes and often sing at night. They derive their name 'whin-chat' from their calls which resemble a sort of chat referring to the nature of its calls. Their scientific name 'Saxicola' derives from the Latin word meaning 'small rock dweller' referring to its habitat. They primarily dwell near rocks.

How big is a whinchat?

A whinchat bird is 4.7-5.5 in (12-14 cm) in length. This bird is two times bigger than a verdin whihc is  4.3 in (11 cm) long.

How fast can a whinchat fly?

The whinchat bird's exact flying speed is not known. They are migratory birds and can travel distances in timed intervals. They migrate to Africa during winters and return to Europe in summer.

How much does a whinchat weigh?

An adult whinchat bird weighs 0.03-0.06 lb (13-26 g). Males and females are similar in size but differ in coloration.

What are the male and female names of the species?

Male and female birds are not known differently. Male and females are similar in size, with females being slightly duller in appearance. They also differ in reproductive functions.

What would you call a baby whinchat?

A baby whinchat can be referred to as a chick, similar to other species of birds. The young chick resembles a femalle when born and is mostly brown in color. The juvenile is dependent on their parents until they become independent.

What do they eat?

A whinchat is primarily a carnivorous bird. They primarily feed on insects and also feed on katipo spiders, snails, and worms. Predators to these birds include weasel, crows, stoats, raptors, and magpies.

Would they make a good pet?

No, these are innately wild birds, so it's not ideal to adopt them. It is best to observe them in their natural range. Whinchat birds are seldom observed since they are migratory species. If you wish to adopt birds as pets, you should consider other sociable pet birds like parrots or parakeets.

Did you know...

Hummingbirds are the smallest migrating bird. During migration, birds prepare themselves by building body fat to sustain themselves.

The domestic chicken is the most common bird seen in most regions of the world. They have a total population of 50 billion birds.

What does the whinchat look like?

The whinchat may be mistaken for the European stonechat, however they are different birds. They are small birds with a blackish crown with a streaked buff. A narrow white line extends from the chin to neck sides. They have dark brown eyes and they have a short tail at the end of their body. Their underparts, throat, and breast are orange to rufous with white on the breast, belly, and undertail coverts. Their bill, legs, and feet are black.

Do whinchats migrate?

Whinchats migrate during winters to Africa from Europe and travel back to Europe during summer. They migrate together in groups. They are common species and may be spotted in Asia as well when migration occurs.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these Hawaiian hawk facts and saker falcon facts for kids.

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

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