Family Old World Flycatchers and Chats (Muscicapidae)

Least Concern

Grey Bushchat (Saxicola ferreus)


French: Tarier gris German: Grauschmätzer Spanish: Tarabilla gris

Saxicola ferrea

J. E. Gray and G. R. Gray

, 1847,



Occasionally placed in genus Rhodophila. Difference in egg pattern between races adduced as evidence for taxonomic reassessment of species, but split seems unlikely and some authorities prefer to view it as monotypic, while others treat race haringtoni as a subspecies of S. jerdoni; the two species are sister#R. Racial variation largely clinal, plumage becoming darker from W to E. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. f. ferreus J. E. Gray & G. R. Gray, 1847 – Himalayas from Pakistan E to Myanmar, NW Thailand, NC Laos#R and C Vietnam (S Annam), probably this race in S China (SE Xizang, W & S Yunnan); non-breeding also at lower altitudes in N India, S Myanmar E to S Indochina.
  • S. f. haringtoni (E. J. O. Hartert, 1910) – C & S China (S from SE Gansu, S Shaanxi and S Anhui and Shanghai); non-breeding S China and Indochina.
  • Descriptive notes

    14–15 cm; 14–16 g. Male nominate race is like male S. jerdoni, but with long white supercilium, grey-fringed back, rump and scapulars, small white wing... read more


    Song, from often high exposed perch (e.g. in pine), a short, variable, pleasant but feeble canary-... read more


    Open scrubby and bush-covered hillsides, glades, grassy knolls by trees, edges of pine and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Chiefly insects, including beetles and grasshoppers, also spiders and small molluscs; occasionally seeds. Feeding habits typical of genus,... read more


    Mar–Jul; probably double-brooded. Nest a modest compact cup made of grasses, moss and fine roots, lined with fibrous material, hair,... read more


    Resident, subject to altitudinal and short-distance winter movements, in much of range. Straggles... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common in greatly restricted range in Pakistan and common through much of Himalayas. Pairs every few hundred metres in agricultural terraces in Nepal... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. (2020). Grey Bushchat (Saxicola ferreus). 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 25 February 2020).