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Tractrac Chat - BirdForum Opus

Photo by Alan Manson
South of Pofadder, Northern Cape, South Africa, October 2011
Emarginata tractrac

Cercomela tractrac


14-15 cm. White tail with a dark inverted “T” at the tip, black short straight bill, black legs and feet, 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.

Similar species

Karoo Chat (which see); Sickle-winged Chat; Familiar Chat


Angola, western Namibia and western South Africa.


Clements recognises the following subspecies [1]:

  • E. t. hoeschi: Coastal deserts of south-western Angola and north-western Namibia
  • E. t. albicans: Coastal northern Namibia (western Damaraland and northern Great Namaqualand)
  • E. t. barlowi: Namibia (central and southern Great Namaqualand)
  • E. t. nebulosa: Coastal sand dunes of south-western Namibia and western South Africa
  • E. t. tractrac: South Africa (Karoo to Aliwal)


Desert scrub, hummock dunes and gravel plains.


It builds a cup-shaped nest of straw and leaves on the ground, usually under a bush or shrub. 2-3 red eggs are laid. This species is monogamous, mating for life.

The diet includes butterflies, bees, wasps, locusts and ants. Prey is typically taken in a short flight.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Gill, F and D Donsker (Eds). 2011. IOC World Bird Names (version 2.10). Available at http://www.worldbirdnames.org/.

Recommended Citation

External Links

Distribution map for Southern Africa