Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush or just Rock Thrush (Monticola saxatilis)

The Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush or just Rock Thrush (Monticola saxatilis) is a member of the thrush family Turdidae.

Distribution / Range

It breeds in southern Europe across central Asia to northern China. This species is strongly migratory, all populations wintering in Africa south of the Sahara. It is an uncommon visitor to northern Europe. Its range has contracted somewhat at the periphery in recent decades due to habitat destruction. For example, in the early 20th century it bred in the Jura Krakowsko-Częstochowska (Poland) where none occur today, but it is not considered globally endangered.


This is a medium-sized but stocky thrush 17-20 cm in length.

The summer male is unmistakable, with a blue-grey head, orange underparts and outer tail feathers, dark brown wings and white back. Females and immatures are much less striking, with dark brown scaly upperparts, and paler brown scaly underparts. The outer tail feathers are reddish, like the male.

Breeding / Nesting

This species breeds in open dry hilly areas, usually above 1500m. It nests in rock cavities, laying 4-5 eggs.

Diet / Feeding

It is omnivorous, eating a wide range of insects and berries.

Song / Vocalizations

The male Rock Thrush has a clear and tuneful song.

Photo of author

Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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