Saxicola rubetra


A small, dumpy chat, a little smaller than a robin, the whinchat has quite a big head and a short tail. They can frequently be seen sitting on fence posts or small bushes, making a soft clicking call. Whinchats inhabit open meadows and wasteland, wet habitats and dry heath. A summer and passage migrant, the whinchat winters in Africa.

How to identify

Generally paler than the similar stonechat, the whinchat has a distinctive pale eyestripe and a pale throat. Males are streaky brown above with an orange chest and females are paler. Whinchats have pale patches at the base of the tail: stonechat tails are all dark.

Where to find it

A summer visitor to moorland and heathland throughout the country. Can turn up anywhere during migration.


When to find it

  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September

How can people help

Whinchats are under threat from habitats loss and fragmentation. The Wildlife Trusts manage heathland nature reserves sympathetically for many bird species by clearing encroaching scrub and implementing beneficial grazing regimes, amongst other activities. You can help too: volunteer for The Wildlife Trusts and you could be involved in everything from traditional heathland management to raising awareness about birds.

Species information

Common name
Latin name
Saxicola rubetra
Thrushes, chats, flycatchers, starling, dipper and wren
Length: 13cm Wingspan: 22cm Weight: 17g Average Lifespan: 2 years
Conservation status
Classified in the UK as an Amber List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review.