Common Rock Thrush
The Common rock thrush derives its nomenclature from its habitat. With its distinctively vivid coloring, it is a joy to behold, and apatent resident of a birder and photographer’s portfolio.
Vikramsinh Sodha speaks about his interest in birding, and specifically the Common rock thrush.
The common rock thrush (Monticola saxatilis), was also called Rufus-tailed rock thrush or rock thrush. It is a chat which belongs to the family Muscicapidae, and was formerly placed in the family Turdidae. The scientific name of the Common Rock Thrush is from Latin. Monticola is from mons, montis “mountain”, and colure, “to dwell”, and saxatilis means “rock-frequenting”, from saxum, “stone”.
The Common rock thrush breeds in southern Europe, across central to northern Asia. This is a migratory species, with a large population wintering in southern Africa. It is an uncommon visitor to northern Europe. The Common rock thrush’s range has decreased somewhat at the periphery in recent decades due to habitat destruction. Infact, the early 20th century saw the Common rock thrush breed in the Jura Krakowsko-Czestochowska(Poland), but the region records none of the species breeding in present times, although it is not considered globally endangered as of this moment.
This is a medium-sized but stocky thrush, about 17 to20 cms in length. The summer male is distinctive, with a blue-grey head, orange under parts and outer tail feathers. It has dark brown wings and a white back. Females and chicks are much less striking than the males, with dark brown scaly upperparts, and paler brown scaly under parts. The outer tail feathers are reddish, similar to the male.
I have seen the Common rock thrush near Kunathiya Bustard Sanctuary at Naliya, in Kutch, Gujarat. The habitat is an open grassland but with some bushes scattered here and there. I have seen this species of birds on trees (Prosopis juliflora). I have spent some time with this species of bird to observe its behavior. I remember the first time I noticed this bird, it was perched on a branch of the Prosopis juliflora. After a while, it hopped on to the ground level to search for food. Then it flew off and sat on a Ziziphus nummularia tree. It had collected some fruit from the ground and fed upon it. It was a surreal experience for me to be able to share some moments in time with this beautiful bird.