Family Old World Flycatchers and Chats (Muscicapidae)

Least Concern

Brown-tailed Chat (Oenanthe scotocerca)


French: Traquet à queue brune German: Braunschwanz-Steinschmätzer Spanish: Colinegro pardo
Other common names: Brown-tailed Rockchat

Saxicola scotocerca


, 1869,

near Keren, Bogosland, Eritrea


Races spectatrix and validior have been treated as representing a separate species, but differences appear relatively minor; vocal evidence may help to clarify the situation for all (curiously disjunct) races, of which the nominate is notably small and turkana notably dark. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • O. s. furensis (Lynes, 1926) – E Chad and W Sudan (Darfur).
  • O. s. scotocerca (Heuglin, 1873) – #RBrown-tailed Chat – Red Sea hills in NE Sudan, N Ethiopia and N Eritrea.
  • O. s. turkana (van Someren, 1920) – extreme SE South Sudan, S Ethiopia, E Uganda and N & NC Kenya.
  • O. s. spectatrix (S. R. Clarke, 1919) – Pale Chat – Awash Valley (E Ethiopia) and adjacent N Somalia.
  • O. s. validior (Berlioz & Roche, 1970) – NE Somalia.
  • Descriptive notes

    13–14 cm; 16–21 g. Nominate race is nondescript greyish-brown above, with slightly rufescent ear-coverts and rump (not so strong as in O. familiaris... read more


    Song a thin, short, rapid liquid chirruping phrase, “seeseesuweet” or “tcheesueet... read more


    Sandstone and boulder-strewn wadis, arid rocky country with scattered shrubs or acacia bushes,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Ants and termites in two stomachs, and seeds in one. Food brought to nestlings in N Ethiopia over 1·5-hour period mostly insects (... read more


    Apr in Eritrea; Mar–Apr in N Ethiopia; nest-building in May in Somalia. Nest like that of O. melanura, with foundation of... read more


    Presumably sedentary. Present all year in N Ethiopia.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Race furensis locally abundant, with 10–20/ha at Kilingen, in Chad, and common in N Sudan. Nominate race common at 1100–1700 m;... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. (2019). Brown-tailed Chat (Oenanthe scotocerca). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 8 December 2019).