Oriental Bird Images

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Stoliczka's Bushchat Saxicola macrorhynchus   - Female
Stoliczka's Bushchat
Photographer : © Adesh Shivkar
Location :Dry fallow land interspersed with thorny shrubs, outskirts of Tal Chappar WLS, Churu, Rajasthan, India
Date : 4 March 2013
English synonyms:Stoliczka's Bush Chat, White-browed Bushchat, White-browed Chat, Stoliczka's Chat, Stoliczka's Whinchat
Bird Family :Saxicolini - Robins, Nightingales, Chats, Shamas, Redstarts, Grandala, Forktails, Cochoas & Wheatears
Red Data Status :Vulnerable
Remarks :There are few birds which still lead a mysterious life.... their lifestyle still un-explored and their status yet unknown. One such bird seems to be the strange Stoliczka’s Bushchat whose behaviour, routine and status is still unclear. This species is known to occur in dry (arid) thorny scrubland in pockets of NW India and presumably in Pakistan and is vulnerable with a declining population. It is indeed surprising to know that very little is known about the breeding habits of this bird. Presumably no-one has yet recorded either its nest or its courtship ritual. It differs from other bushchats by its longer and pointed (almost triangular beak) that probably helps it to dig out insects (have seen this act on several occasions), a distinct supercilium, as also its long legs that help it to pursue prey on the ground just like a pipit. In fact it spends so much time on the ground pursuing insects that a first timer would easily confuse this as a pipit.

The species name macrorhynchus is derived from Greek (makros=large, rhunkhos=bill)

But what’s even more intriguing is its “Puff & Roll” behaviour that has baffled bird experts. While feeding, the bird suddenly puffs up its belly (like in this image) and shakes side-ways, relaxes and resumes its activity. It does this periodically (we have seen the “puffing” part also while it is perched). No-one knows for sure what this means, and there are several hypotheses. Some experts say that it is a courtship ritual, while others feel it could be a threat display; yet others feel this could be a tactic to flush out insects. The latter explanation seems more in-line with chat family behaviour. Whatever it is, there is a need to study and probe this interesting and unique behaviour. However, it is always very amusing to witness this “Puff & Shake” antic of this adorable bird. - AS