Identifying Chats

Watch our Bird ID video on Chats for further help identifying Chats.

Read more about each of the three species whether male, female or juvenile -

The three chat species are bright colourful birds. They frequently perch in the open before darting on their insect prey. Despite the bright colours they are frequently heard before they are seen.  You can listen to and compare their respective songs on the video link above.

Stonechat

The male is a striking bird, frequently seen perching on small bushes and gorse, calling with a charecteristic harsh "wee-tack, tack", like two pebbles being tapped together. The male's head is striking black with white patches on the side of the neck, and a white patch on the wings and rump. The under parts are a vivid orange/chestnut with a black tail. The female is a very drab version of the male lacking the white neck patch and rump. The juvenile birds are spotted and streaky and are frequently found in family parties with the adults.

Whinchat

Frequently perches on the highest vantage point available, drawing attention to itself by its call, a repetitive scolding "hueet-tic-tic, hueet tic-tic, tic-tic". At a distance a Whinchat may be confused with a Stonechat, however when seen clearly the male's head pattern of browns and black with a bold white stripe above the eye makes it distinctive. Note the white stripe in all plumages.  The back has a mixture of black and brown and the under parts a warm buff colour. In flight there is an obvious white wing pattern also present on the base of the tail, which contrasts with the black terminal band.  The females have all these features but they are less vivid.  Juveniles look like pale washed-out versions of the parents - but once again note the pale stripe above the eye.

Wheatear

Generally one of our first spring migrants to arrive, with some coastal areas being regular stopping grounds for migrant birds. They are an upright alert looking bird, always seeming to be on the move from one vantage point to another along the ground. Rarely seen perching in trees and bushes prefering hillocks and boulders. The call is a hard "chack-chack-weet-chack-chack".  The song includes some 'buzzy' notes.  The males have grey upperparts, broad stripe over the eye, black ear coverts and wings, and pale buffish under parts. However it is always the fleeting glimpse of the white rump as it flits away that gives away this bird's identity. The females are brown above with the black being replaced by dark brown but still with the characteristic white rump. Juveniles again look like spotty versions of the adults.

Stonechat male. Photograph by Al Downie

Male Stonechat

Whinchat male. Photograph by Ron Marshall

Male Whinchat

Wheatear male. Photograph by Jill Pakenham

Male Wheatear

Stonechat female. Photograph by Jill Pakenham

Female Stonechat

Whinchat female. Photograph by Edmund Fellowes

Female Whinchat

Wheatear female. Photograph by Luke Delve

Female Wheatear

Stonechat Juvenile. Photograph by Tommy Holden

Juvenile Stonechat

Whinchat Juvenile. Photograph by Mike Weston

Juvenile Whinchat

Wheatear Juvenile. Photograph by Luke Delve

Juvenile Wheatear

Learn about other species to look out for while participating in the Wales Chat Survey.