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Karoo Chat - BirdForum Opus

Subspecies E. s. schlegelii
Photo © by L'argonnais
Close to White Lady site, Erongo, Namibia, 22 August 2022
Emarginata schlegelii

Cercomela schlegelii


Length 16-18 cm (16¼ in). An unremarkable "standard" chat which appears similar to various other chats and wheatears

  • upperparts pale to mid grey
  • wings blackish-brown. Wing tips fall long before the tail tip (less than halfway along the tail)
  • tail fairly long, black with white outer feathers. White is wider towards the base making the black form a truncated inverted triangle
  • rump grey
  • underparts white
  • bill, legs and feet black
  • eyes dark
  • eyering thin, whitish

The sexes are similar, but the juvenile is spotted with buff and has scaly underparts.

Similar species

Tail pattern and relative length are the easiest way to distinguish this from similar species. Karoo Chat appears long tailed, with wing tips falling less than halfway along the tail (halfway or more in similar species). The following are generally browner (but may appear grey):

  • Sickle-winged Chat can have similar relative wing length. Its tail pattern is similar but with buff or rufous instead of white: the rump is this same buff colour rather than Karoo's grey. The buff extends further towards the tail centre making the black "triangle" more pointed than Karoo chat's. Sickle-winged Chat's wings often do not appear darker due to buff or rufous feather fringes
  • Tractrac Chat has more extensive white tail sides and base causing the black pattern to fall halfway between an inverted "T" and a truncated triangle. The rump is whitish. Tractrac's wings generally appear pale due to extensive pale feather fringes. The pale grey namib race albicans has a short primary projection meaning the wing tip scarcely exceeds the rump (longer in other races)
  • Familiar Chat has the most rufous (outer) tail feathers and rump. Here the central black forms an inverted "T". Its rufous cheek patch may be apparent

Generally grey:

  • Mountain Wheatear male is similarly grey but has a white not grey rump. Its outer tail feathers are black-tipped rather than white along their whole length


Africa: found in south-western Angola, western Namibia and western South Africa.

Photo © by nkgray
Karoo National Park, Beaufort West, Western Cape, South Africa, 31 October 2005



Clements recognises the following subspecies [1]:

  • E. s. benguellensis: Coastal South-western Angola (Benguella escarpment)
  • E. s. schlegelii: Coastal Namibia (w Damaraland to Erongo Mountains)
  • E. s. namaquensis: Southern Namibia to north-western South Africa
  • E. s. pollux: Western and central South Africa (east to western Free State)

An additional subspecies kobosensis is generally synonymised with namaquensis.


Semi-desert shrubland



They construct a cup-shaped nest on the ground, from straw and leaves, usually under a bush or shrub. The clutch consists of 2-4 green eggs.


Their main diet consists of insects such as butterflies, bees, wasps, locusts and ants. Prey is typically taken in a short flight.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, S. M. Billerman, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2022. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2022. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/

Recommended Citation

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.1