[order] Passeriformes | [family] Muscicapidae | [latin] Cercotrichas galactotes | [UK] Rufous Bush Robin | [FR] Agrobate roux | [DE] Heckensänger | [ES] Alzarola | [IT] Usignolo d’Africa | [NL] Rosse Waaierstaart

Rosse Waaierstaart determination

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Medium-sized, strong-billed, long tailed, and sprightly chat, with posture frequently recalling Winter Wren. Plumage essentially bright rufous to grey-brown above and buff-white below, with obvious pale supercilium, double wing-bar, and diagnostic orange-rufous tail tipped black and withe, Flight chat-like in action but silhouette recalls large warbler. Sexes similar, no seasonal variation.

Breeds in dry middle and lower middle latitudes, in Mediterranean, steppe, and desert fringe zones, mainly in lowlands. In N-W Africa, only natural habitat in uplands is in tamarisk and vegetation bordering wadis. Not attracted to natural maquis and forest, and avoids both mountains and bare plains. More attracted by man-made habitats such as parks, orange groves, gardens, and groups of prickly pear. In steppes, favours areas planted with bushes and trees.

Cercotrichas galactotes is a widespread but patchily distributed summer visitor to southernmost Europe, which accounts for less than half of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is relatively small (<96,000 pairs), but was stable between 1970-1990. Although the species was stable in a few countries during 1990- 2000, key populations in Turkey and Spain suffered declines, and the species underwent a large decline (>30%) overall. Consequently, this previously Secure species is now provisionally evaluated as Vulnerable.

Mostly insects and earthworms, often rather large, occasionally fruit. Feeding method varies with prey. Pursues ants, etc, on ground. Takes small Diptera and Hymenoptera from flowers, sometimes hovering to do so. Locates earthworms by probing in soft ground, throwing earth aside with bill once worm found.

This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 1,000,000-10,000,000 km². It has a large global population, including an estimated 63,000-190,000 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-Jun in Iberia, Greece, and N Africa, mid May to late Jun in Iraq. Nest site in thick bush or low tree, often near trunk. Nest loosely constructed untidy structure of fine twigs, trasses, and rootlets, lined with vegetable down, wool, hair, and feathers, and often a piece of snake skin. Building by both sexes. 3-5 eggs incubation by female for about 13 days by female. The young fledge after 12-13 days.

Partial migrant from the mediterranean basin to E Africa and India. Rare vangrant to Northern Europe. C. g. galactotes Winters in w Africa. C. g. familiaris Winters e to nw India and s to ne Africa. (Sibley Charles G. 1996)