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Blue rock-thrush

Monticola solitarius

Common name:
blue rock-thrush (en); melro-azul (pt); merle bleu (fr); roquero solitario (es); blaumerle (de)
Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Turdidae
Range:

The blue rock-thrush is a widespread species, with breeding and non-breeding populations spanning from north-west Africa, throughout southern Europe from Portugal and Spain to Turkey, the Arabian Peninsula, northern India and the central Himalayas to China, Mongolia, Japan and south-east Asia.

Size:
These birds are 20-23 cm long and have a wingspan of 33-37 cm. They weigh up to 70 g.

Habitat:

The blue rock-thrush breeds mainly on cliffs, in rocky valleys and gorges, on crags, outcrops, sea cliffs and rocky coasts. It also breeds occasionally in ruins, quarries, isolated stone buildings and on houses, churches, castles and monuments. They are found from sea level up to an altitude of 4.200 m.

Diet:

They feeds on a wide variety of prey species, including invertebrates such as grasshoppers, locusts, crickets, beetles, spiders, snails and earthworms, but also small vertebrates such as geckos, snakes, frogs and mice. During the winter, they will also take fruits, berries and seeds.

Breeding:
The breeding season of the blue rock-thrush varies throughout its range, with some populations starting to breed as early as January and others finishing as late as July. They build a loosely constructed, shallow cup-like nest of coarse dry grass, moss and leaves, which is lined with soft grass, feathers and plant down. It is usually placed 2-5 m above the ground, under overhanging rocks or in crevices on cliffs. There the female lays 3-6 eggs blue or red speckled eggs, which are incubated for 12-15 days. The chicks fledge 15-18 days after hatching, but remain dependent on the adult for another 2 weeks.

Conservation:
IUCN status – LC (Least concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and a global population estimated at 700.000-3.000.000 million individuals. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.
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