Familiar chat

Familiar chat
Cercomela familiaris
Photo by Ian White (Flickr)

Common name:
familiar chat (en); chasco-familiar (pt); traquet familier (fr); colinegro familiar (es); rostschwanz (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Muscicapidae

This African species is patchily distributed across the Sahel, from Guinea to Ethiopia, and a separate population stretches from Tanzania through southern D.R. Congo, Zambia, Angola, Malawi and Mozambique, all the way to South Africa.

They are 14-15 cm long and weigh 18-20 g.

These birds are mostly found in dry scrublands, dry savannas and in boulder-strewn mountain slopes and rocky outcrops. They generally prefer to be near water and can also be found in farmyards and rural gardens.

Familiar chats mainly eat invertebrates, including, grasshoppers, butterflies, beetles, flies, bugs, ants, termites, spiders, solifugids, centipedes, millipedes and snails. They can also eat fruits and seeds and even human or pet food, lard and road kills.

These birds can breed all year round. The nest is an open cup of dry grass, paper and string, lined with finer material, such as fluffy seeds, hair, feathers and wool. It can be placed in a wide range of places, including trees, buildings, cavities in walls, nest boxes or even old burrows made by other species. The female lays 2-4 eggs, which are incubated for about 13-15 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 15-19 days after hactching.

IUCN status – LC (Least concern)
The familiar chat has a very large breeding range and is described as common to uncommon. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats, in fact they are known to adapted quite well to habitat disturbance caused by humans.

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