[order] Passeriformes | [family] Muscicapidae | [latin] Monticola solitarius | [UK] Blue Rock Thrush | [FR] Merle bleu | [DE] Blaumerle | [ES] Roquero solitario | [IT] Passero solitario | [NL] Blauwe Rotslijster

Blauwe Rotslijster determination

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Shape, stance, and habits much as Rufous-tailed Rock-Thrush, but noticeably bulkier with longer tail. Plumage dark and relatively uniform at all ages and seasons. Male dusky blue, in spring dull slate blue, with black tone strongest on back, wing, and tail. Female mottled dusky, dark grey-brown, with little visible blue tone and more obviously marked than male. Sexes dissimilar little seasonal variation.

Breeds in W Palearctic in middle and lower middle latitudes in warm dry temperate, Mediterranean and steppe climatic zones, montane and coastal, rocky and nearly always in part precipitous. Occupies mountains from foothills to juniper zone, especially on precipitous rocky slopes above mountain streams, and on rocks strewn through forests, or sotne fields with thick shrub growth and scattered trees at low as well as high altitudes.

Monticola solitarius is a widespread but patchily distributed breeder in southern Europe, which accounts for less than half of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is large (>120,000 pairs), but underwent a large decline between 1970-1990. The species was stable across most of its European range during 1990- 2000—including the key Turkish population—and thus was probably stable overall. Nevertheless, its population size has not yet recovered to the level that preceded its decline.

Mainly invertebrates, also lizards and plant material. Feeds on ground, by pouncing on prey from perch, and by making short chases after flying prey.

This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 1,000,000-10,000,000 km˛. It has a large global population, including an estimated 240,000-530,000 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]

May-June in Iberia, April-May in North-West Africa, March in Malta, June in former Yugoslavia. Nest site is built in hole or crevice in cliff, under overhanging rock, in cave or quarry, in wall of old building, occasionally in horizontal drainage pipe or hole in tree. Nest is a rather bulky but loosely built shallow cup of coarse dry grass, moss, and some roots, lined with softer and finer roots, and grasses, occasionally with feathers and plant down. 4-5 eggs, incubation 12-15 days, tended to mainly by female.

Partially migratory in west Palearctic (extralimitally in eastern Asia primarily migratory). Vertical displacements common. Main wintering areas of migrants lie in North Africa and Arabia. Migrates singly or in loose aggregations, primarily at night, often with Rock Thrush. Timing of movements poorly known; passage rarely observed, even in Mediterranean basin, and difficult to distinguish between long-distance migration and local dispersal. Vagrants occur north of breeding range as far as Sweden. Most records in August or early September, suggesting reverse migration.