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The boulder chat (Pinarornis plumosus) is a species of bird in the family Muscicapidae native to dry woodland and savanna in Southern Africa. It is the only species in the monotypic genus Pinarornis.[2]

Boulder chat
Boulder chat, Pinarornis plumosus, at Lake Chivero, Harare, Zimbabwe. (21294239804).jpg
At Lake Chivero, Harare, Zimbabwe
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Muscicapidae
Genus: Pinarornis
Sharpe, 1876
P. plumosus
Binomial name
Pinarornis plumosus
Sharpe, 1876



The boulder chat is a large chat, 25 cm (9.8 in) in length, with brownish-black plumage and white tips to the outer tail feathers. In flight, a row of small white spots can be seen on the edge of the primary and secondary coverts. Females are similar to males but have a slightly duller plumage.[3]

A pair at Lake Mutirikwi, Zimbabwe
In flight at Dzalanyama, Malawi

Distribution and habitatEdit

The species is native to Southern Africa, including Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. There are distinct populations in the far west of Botswana and southern Zimbabwe; north eastern Zimbabwe, extending into western Mozambique; and a third population in eastern Zambia extending up the Luangwa valley into Malawi. The boulder chat inhabits well-wooded savanna terrain with large granite boulders or scree, usually in woodland areas, especially miombo.[4] This species belongs to a monotypic genus which has no near relatives and it is considered that it evolved on the southern African granite shield, which formation's extent is almost identical to the distribution of the boulder chat.[5]


The species is most often seen around large boulders, running and bounding on the ground. It often cocks its tail over its back.[3] Eggs are laid in September to January, with a peak in October and November. After breeding the family remains together as a party until the next breeding season.[4]


The IUCN currently classifies the boulder chat as Least Concern. The species may however be under some pressure from habitat loss due to the invasive weed Lantana camara.[4]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Pinarornis plumosus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. ^ "ITIS Report: Pinarornis". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  3. ^ a b Sinclair, Ian.; Hockey, Phil; Tarbolton, Warwick (2002). Birds of Southern Africa. Struik. ISBN 1 86872 721 1.
  4. ^ a b c "Boulder chat - Species text in The Atlas of Southern African Birds" (PDF).
  5. ^ Stuart Irwin, Michael P. (1981). The Birds of Zimbabwe. Quest. p. 276. ISBN 0 908306 01 6.

External linksEdit