Key facts

Scientific name: Saxicola rubicola

Status: Resident breeding species

Breeding birds: 59,000 pairs

Conservation status: Green

Length: 12 – 13 cm

Wingspan: 18 – 21 cm

Weight: 13 – 17 g


in breeding plumage male stonechats have black upperparts edged with brow. Their rumps and uppertail coverts are white with dark streaks. Wings have a narrow white patch and their neck and sides of the breast are white. They have rusty-orange breasts, and cream belly and undertail.

Stonechats have a black hood on their head which extends to the middle of the nape. They have black bills, eyes, legs and feet.

Female stonechats are duller and browner with a smaller wing patch. They have rust rumps and underparts and their hoods on the crown are dark brown. They have brown faces with a buff supercilium. Outside of breeding plumage, both sexes are browner and paler.

Juvenile stonechats look similar to the female with pale brown upperparts steaked with dark brown and brown streaks on their breast and flanks.


Stonechats build their nests close to the ground. It is a deep cup constructed from grass, leaves, roots and stems lined with softer materials such as hair, wool and feathers.

Stonechats lay 4-6 blue-green eggs with reddish spots which are incubated for 2 weeks. Both parents care and feed for the chicks which fledge 13-17 days after hatching.


Stonechats eat insects, beetles, flies, ants, grasshoppers, spiders and larvae. They may also eat worms, snails and small fish as well as seeds and fruits.


Where to see them

Stonechats can be seen throughout the UK except for central Ireland. They are found on heaths, conifer forests and around the coast.



Did you know?

Stonechats make a call that sounds like two stones being knocked together which is what its English name is derived from.

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