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Moorland Chat - BirdForum Opus

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Photo by Andrew S
Photographed on Mount Kenya, Kenya.

Alternative name: Alpine Chat

Pinarochroa sordida

Cercomela sordida


Length 14-15cm. It has a short tail and long legs. Bright white outer tail feathers (seen in flight only) are diagnostic. Otherwise, overall a small, drab gray bird with lighter underparts. This bird has a yellow gape which is not referred to in some books of the region. Juvenile is faintly barred above, with slight mottling on breast.

Subspecies ernesti.
Photo © by THE_FERN. Aberdares National Park Kenya, November 2021

Similar Species

Familiar Chat:

  • more elongate, less dumpy and often perches with a less upright stance (more horizontally)
  • generally has less contrast between dark head and paler underparts including throat than Moorland Chat
  • has outer tail feathers rufous instead of white
  • tail with reddish instead of white in the tail
  • may have a chestnut auricular patch (uniform and darker in Moorland)
  • lacks the yellowish gape line which may be present in Moorland Chat (especially ernesti)

(Based on [2] and analysis of images here and at [3])


North-east Africa


Has been placed in genus Cercomela.


Clements recognises the following subspecies [1]:

  • P. s. sordida: High altitude moorlands of Ethiopia
  • P. s. ernesti: highlands of extreme eastern Uganda and of western and central Kenya
  • P. s. olimotiensis: High altitude moorlands of northern Tanzania (Crater Highlands)
  • P. s. hypospodia: Northern Tanzania (Mt. Kilimanjaro moorlands)


Common on high altitude (mostly above 3400m.) moors and grassland.


Hops along ground, with short flights to perches. Flicks tail and wings.


  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/
  1. Stevenson, T. & J Fanshawe 2020. Birds of East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi) - second edition. Helm Field Guides, Christooher Helm London. ISBN 978-1-4081-5736-7
  1. Macauley Library at https://www.macaulaylibrary.org

Recommended Citation

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