Larger than European Robin, with similar form and structure except for slightly longer wings and tail. Quite robust and bulky chat, more recalling robin-chats of Africa than Palearctic relatives. Diagnostic combination of rather long black tail, white vent, and rufous-buff flanks. Male striking, with black face-mask contrasting with white throat, narrow white supercilium, dark blue-grey upperparts, and rich rufous-orange chest. Female much less colorful, with brown-grey head and back. Sexes dissimilar, little seasonal variation.
Breeds in warm dry continental lower-middle latitudes, in largely in stony arid uplands, on more or less steep slopes or in ravines of mountain steams and narrow stony gullies, often with scattered junipers, almonds, and other shrubs, or rank grasses on edge of mountain steppes, especially at 2000 m.
Irania gutturalis is a patchily distributed summer visitor to Turkey and parts of the Caucasus (with a tiny new population in Greece), with Europe accounting for less than half of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is large (>410,000 pairs), but its trend between 1970-1990 was unknown. Although the species was stable in Armenia and Azerbaijan during 1990-2000, the stronghold population in Turkey increased, and the species probably underwent a small increase overall.
In breeding season at least, mainly insects. Feeds mainly on ground, turning over leaves to search, also in trees and bushes.
This species has a large global range; the total size has not yet been quantified, but the Extent of Occurrence in Africa alone is estimated to be 1,000,000 km². It has a large global population, including an estimated 820,000-1,800,000 individuals in Europe (BirdLife International in prep.). Global population trends have not been quantified, but 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. [conservation status from birdlife.org]
Half of May in Armenia. Nest site in lower part of shrub or small tree, on stump, or in tree crevice. Nest, cup of dry grass leaves, twigs, and bark, lined with vegetable down and hair, often some feathers, bits of rag, paper, sheep's wool, etc. 4-5 eggs, incubation 13-15 days, by female, though male may take over when female is away from nest.
Migratory, wintering in rather restricted area of East Africa, mainly in Kenya in plateau country north and east of highlands and in Tanzania mainly in north-east and dry interior. Arrives in Turkey from mid-April, with continuing arrivals into May; arrival apparently synchronous across entire range. Most leave breeding grounds by end of August. Nowhere common on passage, probably because east Mediterranean and north-east Africa are usually overflown.