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Cercomela tractrac

Cercomela tractrac (*)

Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Classis: Aves
Subclassis: Carinatae
Infraclassis: Neornithes
Parvclassis: Neognathae
Ordo: Passeriformes
Subordo: Passeri
Parvordo: Passerida
Superfamilia: Muscicapoidea
Familia: Muscicapidae
Genus: Cercomela
Species: Cercomela tractrac
Subspecies: C. t. albicans - C. t. barlowi - C. t. hoeschi - C. t. nebulosa - C. t. tractrac


Cercomela tractrac (Wilkes, 1817)


Encyclopaedia Londinensis 16 p.89

Vernacular names
English: Tractrac Chat

The Tractrac Chat, Cercomela tractrac, is a small passerine bird of the Old World flycatcher family Muscicapidae. It is a common resident breeder in southernmost Angola, western Namibia and western South Africa.

Its habitat is Karoo and desert scrub, hummock dunes and gravel plains.


The Tractrac Chat is 14–15 cm long with a weight of 20 g. Its tail is white with a dark inverted “T” at the tip, reminiscent of the pattern shown by several wheatears. The short straight bill and the legs and feet are black. It has a dark eye. The Namib form found on hummock dunes and at the coast has almost white plumage with grey wings and grey tail marking. The south-eastern form, found in gravel plains has brown upperparts with blackish flight feathers and tail markings. Its underparts are white. The sexes are similar, but the juvenile is more mottled than the adult.

This species is smaller than the Karoo Chat which also has the white of the outer tail feathers extending to the tip. It is paler and greyer than Familiar and Sickle-winged Chats, both of which have a darker rump.

The Tractrac Chat has a soft fast "tactac" song and a loud chattering territorial defence call.


The Tractrac Chat builds a cup-shaped nest of straw and leaves on the ground, usually under a bush or shrub. It lays two to three red eggs. This species is monogamous, mating for life.

It is usually seen singly or in pairs. It forages from the ground for insects including butterflies, bees, wasps, locusts and ants. Prey is typically taking in a short flight.

Conservation status

This common species has a large range, with an estimated extent of 1,000,000 km². The population size is believed to be large, and the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern.


* Ian Sinclair, Phil Hockey and Warwick Tarboton, SASOL Birds of Southern Africa (Struik 2002) ISBN 1-86872-721-1
* Birds of Southern Africa

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Source: Wikipedia, Wikispecies: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License