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The Blue Rock Thrush (Monticola solitarius) is a species of chat. This thrush-like Old World flycatcher was formerly placed in the family Turdidae. It breeds in southern Europe, northwest Africa, and from central Asia to northern China and Malaysia.
Chats (formerly sometimes known as "chat-thrushes") are a group of small Old World insectivorous birds formerly classified as members of the thrush family Turdidae, but now considered Old World flycatchers.
The name is normally applied to the more robust ground-feeding flycatchers found in Europe and Asia and most northern species are strong migrants. There are a large number of genera and these birds in particular make up most of the subfamily Saxicolinae.
Other songbirds called "chats" are:
• Australian chats, genera Ashbyia and Epthianura of the honeyeater family (Meliphagidae). They belong to a more ancient lineage than Saxicolinae.
• American chats, genus Granatellus of the cardinal family (Cardinalidae), formerly placed in the wood-warbler family. They belong to a more modern lineage than Saxicolinae.
• Yellow-breasted chat (Icteria virens), an enigmatic North American songbird tentatively placed in the wood-warbler family (Parulidae); its true relationships are unresolved.
Distribution and habitat
The European, north African and southeast Asian birds are mainly resident, apart from altitudinal movements. Other Asian populations are more migratory, wintering in sub-Saharan Africa, India and southeast Asia. This bird is a very uncommon visitor to northern and western Europe.
Range map from www.oiseaux.net - Ornithological Portal Oiseaux.net
www.oiseaux.net is one of those MUST visit pages if you're in to bird watching. You can find just about everything there
The Blue Rock Thrush was described by Carl Linnaeus in 1758 in the 10th edition of his Systema Naturae under the binomial name Turdus solitarius. The scientific name is from Latin. Monticola is from mons, montis “mountain”, and colere, “to dwell”, and the specific epithet solitarius means "solitary".
The rock thrush genus Monticola was formerly placed in the family Turdidae but molecular phylogenetic studies have shown that the species in the genus are more closely related to members of the Old World flycatcher family Muscicapidae.
There are five recognised subspecies:
• Monticola solitarius solitarius (Linnaeus, 1758) – northwest Africa, south Europe, north Turkey to Georgia and Azerbaijan.
• Monticola solitarius longirostris (Blyth, 1847) – Greece and west and south Turkey through the Middle East to the northwest Himalayas to northeast Africa and India
• Monticola solitarius pandoo (Sykes, 1832) – central Himalayas to east China and north Vietnam to Greater Sunda Islands
• Monticola solitarius philippensis (Statius Müller, 1776) – east Mongolia to Sakhalin south to Japan, extreme north Philippines and northeast China to Indonesia
• Monticola solitarius madoci Chasen, 1940 – Malay Peninsula and north Sumatra
There is a proposal to split Monticola solitarius into two species: a western taxon comprising Monticola solitarius solitarius and Monticola solitarius longirostris and an eastern taxon with Monticola solitarius philippensis, Monticola solitarius pandoo and Monticola solitarius madoci.
Blue rock thrush breeds in open mountainous areas. It nests in rock cavities and walls, and usually lays 3-5 eggs. An omnivore, the Blue Rock Thrush eats a wide variety of insects and small reptiles in addition to berries and seeds.
The Blue Rock Thrush is Malta's national bird and is shown on the Lm 1 coins that was part of the previous currency of the country.
The Blue Rock Thrush is a starling-sized bird, 21–23 cm in length with a long slim bill. The breeding male of the nominate subspecies is unmistakable, with all blue-grey plumage apart from its darker wings. Females and immatures are much less striking, with dark brown upperparts, and paler brown scaly underparts. The male of the subspecies Monticola solitarius philippensis has rufous-chestnut plumage from the mid-breast down to the undertail. Both sexes lack the reddish outer tail feathers of rock thrush.
The male Blue Rock Thrush sings a clear, melodious call that is similar to, but louder than the call of the rock thrush
Blue rock thrush breeds in open mountainous areas. It nests in rock cavities and walls, and usually lays 3-5 eggs. An omnivore, the blue rock thrush eats a wide variety of insects and small reptiles in addition to berries and seeds.
noun an animal or person that eats a variety of food of both plant and animal origin.
ORIGIN late 19th cent.: from French, from Latin omnivorus ‘omnivorous’