Fr: Tarier de la Réunion
Ang: Reunion Stonechat
All: Réunionschmätzer
Esp: Tarabilla de Reunión
Ita: Saltimpalo di Reunion
Nd: Réunionroodborsttapuit
Sd: réunionbuskskvätta


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Reunion Stonechat
Saxicola tectes

Passeriformes Order – Muscicapidae Family

The Reunion Stonechat is endemic to Reunion Island. It is sometimes considered a race of the European Stonechat, depending on the authors.
This species is usually found in wet forest between 300 and 1,000 metres of elevation. It feeds on various insects and small vertebrates, but fruits and berries are also part of its diet. It nests in a well-hidden cup-shaped structure built on the ground or higher in tree hole.
The Reunion Stonechat has restricted range but it adapts to degraded habitats. The population is fairly stable and the species is not globally threatened.

Length: 12-13 cm
Weight: 11-14 g

The Reunion Stonechat resembles Canary Islands Stonechat.  
The adult male has black upperparts, including head, wings and tail. A white wing patch is sometimes visible on greater coverts.
The underparts are white, with a variable-sized rufous-orange patch on the breast. Depending on the individuals, the underparts may be washed pale orange below the breast. We can see a white, half collar.
On the head, crown, nape and face are black, sometimes with a contrasting, narrow, white supercilium. Chin and throat are white.
The thin bill is black. The eyes are dark brown. Legs and feet are blackish.

The adult female has dark upperparts, usually browner than male. The white wing patch is often absent.
On the underparts, the breast is more buff than rufous, with whitish centre of belly.
On the head, the pale supercilium is mostly buff. The female is duller than male overall.

The juvenile resembles female but it has mottled underparts and it is duller.

The Reunion Stonechat is endemic to Reunion Island and occurs only there.

The Reunion Stonechat can be observed in various habitats at high elevations in the northern part of the island. It frequents habitats from scrub to woodland if they have an open understorey. It is common in all types of native forest, from the dry forest of the W and through the humid, evergreen forest growing in much of the island and also secondary vegetation, to grassland at higher elevations where it is less common. The species becomes scarce around the Volcan and in the cloud forest of E of the island.
It is usually present above 800-900 metres in N and NE, and from 300 metres in S. But it is commonest above 1,200 metres of elevation.

The Reunion Stonechat feeds primarily on insects and small invertebrates, but fruits, berries and probably seeds are occasionally part of its diet.
It forages by snatching and gleaning methods, and may also perform sallies, including over water. The prey are caught on foliage, rocks, tree trunks and walls. It watches for prey from a perch and then, it flies or jumps to catch it. The prey is often taken back to another perch, although larger items are beaten before to be eaten.

The Reunion Stonechat is territorial and monogamous. Display flights are reported. The bird rises almost vertically from a perch and “dances” in the air while bobbing up and down. These displays are accompanied by sharp call notes typical of genus Saxicola.

The Reunion Stonechat may move to lower elevations outside breeding season.
It performs hovering, flycatching and fluttering flight when foraging.    

The breeding season occurs between mid-October and late January.
The Reunion Stonechat nests in a cup-shaped structure made with mosses, grasses and leaves, and lined inside with finer grass and feathers. It is often placed on the ground in a tuft of vegetation that may sometimes form a roof and where it is well-hidden. But it also uses tree holes in trunks, up to 8-9 metres above the ground, sometimes higher. The nests placed in trees are more protected from predation by mammals and human disturbance.

The female lays 2-3 pale blue-green eggs with fine dark markings. She incubates alone during about two weeks. The chicks are fed by both parents, and fledge 13-15 days after hatching.

The Reunion Stonechat is a restricted-range species. It is mainly threatened by introduced mammalian predators and modification of the habitat.
The species is commoner above 1,200 metres of elevation than below. The size of the population was estimated to number 180,000 individuals in 1983 and more than 100,000 pairs in 1987. It is placed in the band 100,000/499,999 individuals and is suspected to be stable.
The Reunion Stonechat is not globally threatened and currently evaluated as Least Concern.
The Reunion Stonechat gives a vigorous “tek” or repeated “tek-tek” usually directed at intruder. This call gives the bird its creole name “Tec-tec”, and also its scientific name “tectes”. This call is sometimes preceded by a plaintive “hweet”. The alarm call is a more rapid “trré trré”.
The song is loud and distinctive, usually given from high perch in tree or while flying above the canopy.