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White-browed Bushchat Saxicola macrorhynchus

Justification
This semi-arid desert specialist is poorly known, but is thought to have a small, declining population as a result of agricultural intensification and encroachment, which qualifies 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.

Taxonomic note
Gender agreement of species name follows David and Gosselin (2002b).

Synonym(s)
Saxicola macrorhyncha Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993), Saxicola macrorhyncha Collar and Andrew (1988), Saxicola macrorhyncha Collar et al. (1994), Saxicola macrorhyncha BirdLife International (2000), Saxicola macrorhyncha BirdLife International (2004)

Identification
17 cm. Large, nondescript chat. Breeding males dark above with mostly blackish mask and wings, broad white supercilium and band along inner wing-coverts and mostly white primary coverts. Non-breeding male has broad buffish fringing above and buffish-fringed remiges with less white. Female resembles non-breeding male but lacks dark mask and white on tail. Wings duller. Juvenile is darker brown above than female, with buff streaks and spots and whitish below, indistinctly brown-mottled throat and breast. Similar spp. Female Common Stonechat S. torquata has shorter bill and tail, less pronounced supercilium, and narrower buff fringes to tail feathers. Voice Song a low musical twitch-chhe chee chee.

Distribution and population
Saxicola macrorhynchus is endemic to the north-west Indian subcontinent. Its historical distribution included Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat, India, adjacent parts of Punjab and Sind, Pakistan (probably now extinct) and Afghanistan (now extinct). Formerly locally distributed but sometimes common or extremely abundant, it appears to have declined. Recent records are from parts of the Thar Desert in Rajasthan and neighbouring Gujarat (Rahmani 1996), in many areas of the Little Rann of Kutch (Nikhil Devasar pers. comm. 2009 to Rahmani in prep.), as well as numerous records from the Don grasslands in Kutch (B. Harvey in litt. 2006), Hissar District, Haryana (Harvey 2002, Sharma and Sangwan 2005) and two records from Maharashtra (Deshmukh 2006, Rao 2007). In 1993-1994, four intensive surveys located c.86 birds in 18 localities, including 25 over a 45 km stretch on one day, suggesting that it remains common at certain localities (Rahmani 1996). There are recent regular and maybe breeding records of this species from Tal Chhapar in Churu district (Rahmani in prep.).

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 3,750-14,999 individuals in total, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Trend justification
Despite the scarcity of information on population trends, a moderate and continuing decline is suspected to be occurring, owing to the conversion and degradation of semi-arid habitats across the range.

Ecology
It inhabits dry, sandy semi-deserts and desert plains with low herbs and scattered shrubs, where ground-cover ranges between 25% and 50%. In Pakistan, it also inhabited arid subtropical thorn-scrub and perhaps irrigated cultivation and tall grass, though these are thought to be suboptimal habitats. Its movements are poorly understood. Most records are from the winter period (November-March), and it is thought likely that birds move to the deserts of central and western Rajasthan to breed with the onset of the rains in June.

Threats
The key threat is agricultural intensification and encroachment, primarily through the introduction of irrigation schemes to semi-arid areas and their subsequent conversion into croplands. Overgrazing by livestock may also reduce the extent of suitable habitat. Intensive use of chemical pesticides in cotton crops may negatively affect this species in Kutch (Tiwari in litt. 2006). These trends are expected to continue with the development of the Rajasthan Canal and widespread application of modern agricultural techniques.


Conservation Actions Underway
CMS Appendix II. Its occurrence has been confirmed from various protected areas in recent years, including the Desert (breeding likely) and Keoladeo National Parks and Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan, and Velavadar National Park in Gujarat, and Lala Bustard Sanctuary in Kutch. Extensive surveys have been conducted throughout its Indian range. Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue to monitor its distribution, population status and seasonal movements. Conduct further detailed investigations into its ecology, and identify significant breeding populations. Investigate the impact threats, including canal irrigation, on the species and its habitat. Develop a conservation strategy for the species based on these surveys, including the gazetting of strictly protected areas, perhaps in combination with areas designated for the conservation of the Great Indian Bustard Ardeotis nigriceps.

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

Deshmukh, A.J. 2006. First record of Stoliczka's bushchat Saxicola macrorhyncha Stoliczka from Maharashtra. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 103(1): 102.

Harvey, B. 2002. Stoliczka’s Bushchat Saxicola macrorhyncha in Haryana, India. Bull. Oriental Bird Club 35: 17-21.

Rahmani, A. R. 1996. Status and distribution of Stoliczka's Bushchat Saxicola macrorhyncha in India. Forktail 12: 61-78.

Rahmani, A. R. 1997. The Enigmatic Whitebrowed Bushchat. Hornbill: 29-32.

Rahmani, A.R. 2012. Threatened Birds of India - Their Conservation Requirements. Oxford University Press.

Rao, R. 2007. Sighting of Stoliczka's Bushchat Saxicola macrorhynchus in Pune District, Maharashtra, western India. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 104(2): 214.

Sharma, S. C., Sangwan, P. S. 2005. Stoliczka's bushchat Saxicola macrorhyncha in Hissar District, Haryana. Indian Birds 1(1): 6-7.

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.

Contributors
Harvey, B., Tiwari, J., Rahmani, A., Sharma, S., Sangwan, P., Deshmukh, A., Devasar, N.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Saxicola macrorhynchus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 30/07/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 30/07/2014.

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-browed bushchat (Saxicola macrorhynchus)

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Muscicapidae (Chats and Old World flycatchers)
Species name author (Stoliczka, 1872)
Population size 2500-9999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 90,300 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species