Birds – The Whinchat

Birds – The Whinchat

The Whinchat

The Whinchat male

In this article we will see: “The Whinchat”, birds, diverse and captivating, grace our skies with their melodies. From vibrant plumage to impressive flights, they captivate with endless wonders.

Birds – The Whinchat

Brief Background

Description: Length: 12.5 cm; folded wing: 61-70 mm; wingspan: about 20 cm; tail: 41-52 mm; beak: 14 mm. Weight: 12-20 g.

Appearance and Behaviour

Male: Black head; black mantle and tail with brown-fringed feathers; white shoulders and wing patches; chest and flanks reddish; white belly; black eyes and legs. Female: Head, mantle, and tail brown with pale blackish nuances; creamy belly.

On the edges of roads and paths, on dense bushes or fence posts, a small bird suddenly takes flight as you approach. With a stealthy leap, it disappears only to perch a little further away, giving you enough time to notice its reddish chest and white belly contrasting with the black upperparts. On the other hand, the female, more discreet, easily goes unnoticed. Adorned with brown feathers, she prefers to avoid too much attention, especially during the breeding season.

The Whinchat

The Whinchat female

The Whinchat's voice sample

Like all chats, the Whinchat particularly favors open spaces scattered with brambles, fallow lands, or crisscrossed by low hedges. It keeps away from dense woods and thickets and does not venture into gardens either. Silent during winter, the Whinchat becomes one of our most talkative passerines throughout spring and summer, with its dry and nervous “tsac-tsac-tsac-tsac” calls.


From its usual perch, the Whinchat swiftly pounces on passing insects within its reach. After snatching its prey in mid-air, it returns to its lookout post. Similar to its relative, the Wheatear, it can also hunt by hovering in flight about 1 meter above the grass. Strictly insectivorous, it preys on flies, beetles, butterflies, as well as larvae, caterpillars, and grasshoppers, which it captures by hopping on the ground where it finds plenty of other small creatures.


In March, after the winter break, the pairs reaffirm their territory. The male undergoes a noticeable transformation and displays his ardor by spreading his tail wide, rhythmically lifting and lowering it, while stretching his body forward and emitting a voluble trill. After the courtship, the female busies herself with nest construction, skillfully concealing it beneath low vegetation, sheltered by heather or amidst the tangle of grass.

The Whinchat's eggs

The Whinchat’s eggs

The nest is a comfortable cup made of dry stems and moss on the outside, lined with horsehair and feathers on the inside. In April, the female lays her first clutch of 5 or 6 eggs. The eggs have a pale green or bluish ground color, speckled with reddish-brown and light brown, especially around the blunt end. They have an average size of 15 x 18 mm and weigh about 2 g. The incubation period, solely carried out by the female, lasts for 14 days. A second brood often occurs in May, and occasionally a third brood in July.

The young are raised by both adults. They leave the nest at 13 days old but stay with their parents for at least another 2 weeks.


Resident in regions unaffected by snow, such as the coasts of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, Whinchats from the central mountainous regions of Europe depart from their breeding areas in September-October to migrate south-southwest to destinations like Spain and Algeria. The birds are observed returning in February.


The Whinchat breeds in Europe from the British Isles to the Black Sea, and from Spain to southern Denmark. The species is also found in Asia Minor, Siberia, Japan, and in North and East Africa, including Madagascar.

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A final word

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