Saxicola rubetra | Whinchat | Caislín aitinn
This species is Red-listed according to Birds of Conservation Concern in Ireland 2020-2026 and is of high conservation value as a result.
According to the last IUCN Red List assessment in 2016, the Whinchat is a species of ‘Least Concern’ on a global scale. A decreasing population trend has been noted however.
The Whinchat is a small species of passerine (perching bird) that can be identified by its brown back with streaks of black and white, orange breast with a contrasting whitish belly and a pronounced white stripe above the eye.
Adult males have a darker head with a wider supercilium and may appear quite similar to a Stonechat in terms of size and appearance. The female has a browner head and the supercilium is not as white.
The Whinchat stands at 12-13 cm in length with a wingspan of 21-24 cm and weighing 16-24 grams.
Winchat primarily feed on invertebrates such as insects but will also feed on seeds and berries given the opportunity.
Whinchat are found in a variety of habitat types from uplands with bracken cover to open grasslands, meadows and scrubland habitats.
A good population of invertebrate food items is an important feature of a suitable habitat for Whinchat.
The Whinchat lays a clutch of 5-6 eggs, each weighing approximately 2.1 grams. These eggs are incubated for 13 days, and fledge after 14-15 days.
A wild Whinchat has a life expectancy of approximately two years and will breed at one year old.
The loss of marginal agricultural land and scrub is considered a significant reason for this decline (Gilbert, Stanbury and Lewis, 2021).
The Whinchat is a summer visitor to Ireland from parts of Western Africa where it spends its winters.
The Irish breeding population has declined in recent time with loss of suitable habitat playing a significant factor in their decline.
Records submitted to Data Centre in 2021
The following map is interactive. If you would prefer to view it full screen then click here.
BirdWatch Ireland: https://birdwatchireland.ie/birds/whinchat/
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds: https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/whinchat/
British Trust for Ornithology: https://app.bto.org/birdfacts/results/bob11370.htm
IUCN Red List: https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/22710156/87906903
Gilbert, G., Stanbury, A. and Lewis, L., 2021. Birds of Conservation Concern in Ireland 4: 2020-2026. [online] Wicklow. Available at: <https://birdwatchireland.ie/birds-of-conservation-concern-in-ireland/> [Accessed 2 Jun. 2021].