restricted access Starling and chats
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Wattled Starling L: 21 cm (8") Starlings are stout, sharp-billed, stronglegged birds that often walk and run along the ground . Wattled Starling is grey-brown with dark wings and tail, and a whitish rump . The pale bill and lemon-yellow facial skin in females and non-breeding males is subdued, but breeding males acquire long, fleshy, dangling wattles with naked, canary-yellow skin on the face, making them unmistakable . This gregarious nomad is almost always found in groups, and breeds colonially, sometimes sharing nests with weavers . It is irregular and irruptive in Kruger’s grasslands and open savannahs – in some years numbering in the thousands, yet in others being almost absent . Sometimes associates with large mammals, feeding on insects that are flushed . Both sexes give a variety of squeaks and hissing notes . Familiar Chat L: 15 cm (6") This dumpy, plain-brown bird has rusty ear patches and rufous on the rump and outer tail feathers . The juvenile is spotted and scaled buff . Birds frequently flick their wings and lift their tail – behaviours that are usually sufficient to confirm identification . This species is uncommon but widespread in Kruger, favouring rocky areas and buildings, where it often perches conspicuously . Its main food is invertebrates, and birds have been recorded associating with Klipspringers, catching insects that they flush . Starling and chats wattled starling non-breeding breeding 74 The scientific name of this bird, Saxicola torquatus, refers to its appearance and habitat preference.The name is is derived from Latin words and has the meaning‘collared rock-dweller’ – Saxicola from saxum (‘rock’) + incola (‘one who dwells in a place’) and torquatus (‘collared’). African Stonechat L: 14 cm (5·5") This chat is a small, dumpy, upright and short-tailed bird that sits prominently on grasses, bushes or twigs . The male has a chestnut breast, black head, back and tail, and a white rump, and a diagnostic large white patch on the side of the neck and a shoulder stripe . The female is orange-buff underneath, mottled grey-brown above and has a dull buff eyebrow . This bird is a fairly common, but conspicuous, winter visitor to Kruger (May–August), when it inhabits open grasslands with scattered shrubs . It has a habit of swooping down to catch an insect before returning to a favourite perch . BIRDS OF PLAINS AND OPEN WOODLANDS female male 75 ...