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White-throated Bushchat Saxicola insignis
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This poorly known chat has a small, declining population as a result of loss of its wintering grassland habitats to drainage, conversion to agriculture, overgrazing, flooding, and thatch harvesting. These factors qualify it as Vulnerable.

Taxonomic source(s)
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

17 cm. Large chat. Adult male has white throat and sides of neck. White primary coverts, patch at base of primaries, inner median and greater coverts and at base of tertials and secondaries. Black crown, ear-coverts and mantle with rufous-brown fringes. Rufous-orange underparts becoming pale on belly. Female has buffish supercilium, pale throat and buffish crown and mantle. Similar spp. Common stonechat S. torquata is smaller, lacks white primary coverts and patch at base of primaries and has dark throat. Voice Metallic teck-teck.

Distribution and population
Saxicola insignis breeds very locally in the mountains of Mongolia and adjacent parts of Russia. It has been recorded on passage in northern and western China and Tibet (Simba Chan in litt. 2002), and winters in the terai of northern India and Nepal, with one spring record from Bhutan. Although once common, it is now rare and local in its wintering range. In 1998, the wintering population in Nepal was estimated at just 110 individuals. Little is known about populations in its breeding grounds.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature individuals based on an assessment of recent records and surveys by BirdLife International (2001). This is equivalent to 3,750-14,999 individuals in total, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Trend justification
A moderate and on-going population decline is suspected to be occurring as a result of habitat loss and degradation in the wintering grounds, although up-to-date information on population trend is lacking.

It breeds (c.June) in alpine or subalpine meadows and scrub in mountains. It winters (October-May) in wet and dry grasslands, reeds and tamarisks along riverbeds, and also in sugarcane fields, in open terrain below 250 m. On migration, it occurs up to 4,500 m. Optimum grassland habitat appears to comprise a mosaic of disturbed (burned or grazed) and undisturbed habitat, although it is absent from apparently suitable sites.

The major threat appears to be rapid and extensive loss and modification of grasslands in its wintering grounds, as a result of drainage, conversion to agriculture (although it appears to have partially adapted to sugarcane), overgrazing, grass harvesting for thatch production and inappropriate grassland management within protected areas. Recent heavy flooding in the valley of the Brahmaputra, compounded by forest destruction in its catchment, has destroyed further suitable habitat.

Conservation Actions Underway
CMS Appendix II. Wintering populations regularly occur in several protected areas, including Kaziranga, Corbett and Manas National Parks, India, and Lumbini Crane Sanctuary, Chitwan National Park and Sukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve, Nepal, the latter site supporting perhaps the highest recorded concentrations.Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct further surveys for the species across its breeding and wintering range to identify important sites and potential threats. Extend, upgrade and link (where possible) existing protected areas, and establish new ones, in order to adequately conserve remaining tracts of natural grassland. Promote grassland regeneration. Control livestock-grazing in relevant protected areas. Promote widespread conservation awareness initiatives focusing on sustainable management of grassland to maximise both thatch productivity for local people and available habitat for threatened grassland birds.

BirdLife International. 2001. Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Derhé, M., Gilroy, J.

Chan, S.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Saxicola insignis. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - White-throated bushchat (Saxicola insignis) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Muscicapidae (Chats and Old World flycatchers)
Species name author Gray, 1846
Population size 2500-9999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 148,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species