Family Old World Flycatchers and Chats (Muscicapidae)

Least Concern

Familiar Chat (Oenanthe familiaris)


French: Traquet familier German: Rostschwanz-Steinschmätzer Spanish: Colinegro familiar

Motacilla familiaris


, 1817,

Table Mountain, south-western Cape Province, South Africa


Proposed race modesta (described from N Malawi) synonymized with falkensteini. Seven subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • O. f. falkensteini (Cabanis, 1875) – SE Senegal E to NW Ethiopia, and S Uganda and Tanzania S to Zambezi Valley, possibly also NE Sierra Leone#R; status unknown in adjacent S Eritrea#R.
  • O. f. omoensis (Neumann, 1904) – SE South Sudan, SW Ethiopia, NE Uganda and NW Kenya.
  • O. f. angolensis (Lynes, 1926) – extreme S Congo#R, SW DRCongo, W Angola and N Namibia.
  • O. f. galtoni (Strickland, 1853) – E Namibia, W Botswana and N South Africa (N & W Northern Cape).
  • O. f. hellmayri (Reichenow, 1902) – SE Botswana E to S Mozambique, and E South Africa (Northern Province and N Eastern Cape).
  • O. f. actuosa (Clancey, 1966) – E South Africa (W KwaZulu-Natal S to Drakensberg Mts) and Lesotho.
  • O. f. familiaris (Wilkes, 1817) – S South Africa (Western Cape and Eastern Cape E to R Great Kei).
  • Descriptive notes

    14–15 cm; 13–29 g. Nominate race is dull brown to brown-grey above, with distinctive warmer brown ear-coverts, darker wings with buffish-brown edgings, rufous-... read more


    Song a quiet, nondescript random series of phrases consisting of soft whistles and subdued... read more


    Shrubland or light woodland, notably Brachystegia, with areas of rocky ground such as... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly insects, especially beetles, ants and termites; other items recorded include seeds, berries, discarded bread, pet food, roadkill... read more


    Mar in Mali; nest-building Feb in Ivory Coast; Dec in Ghana; Mar–May in Nigeria; Aug and Mar in E Africa; breeding condition Sept... read more


    Mainly resident. Possibly present only in Jun–Oct rainy season in N parts of range in W... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Abundance variable throughout range. Common in Kédougou region of Senegal and fairly common in S Mali; local and uncommon in N... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. (2020). Familiar Chat (Oenanthe familiaris). 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 28 February 2020).