©Richard Steel/2020VISION


©Richard Steel/2020VISION


Scientific name: Saxicola rubetra
The whinchat is a summer visitor to UK heathlands, moorlands and open meadows. It looks similar to the stonechat, but is lighter in colour and has a distinctive pale eyestripe.

Species information


Length: 12cm
Wingspan: 22cm
Weight: 17g
Average lifespan: 2 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Red under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2015).

When to see

April to September


A dumpy chat, a little smaller than a Robin, the whinchat has quite a big head and a short tail. It can frequently be seen sitting on fence posts or small bushes, making a soft clicking call. Whinchats inhabit open meadows and wasteland, wet habitats and dry heath. They are summer and passage migrants, wintering in Africa.

How to identify

Generally paler than the similar stonechat, the whinchat has a distinctive pale eyestripe and a pale throat. Males are streaky brown above, with an orange chest, but females are paler. Whinchats have pale patches at the base of the tail, while Stonechat tails are completely dark.


A summer visitor to the north and west. Can turn up anywhere during migration.

Did you know?

Whin' is another name for Gorse which is often found in the habitats that whinchats breed in.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts are working to restore and protect our heathlands by ensuring breeding birds are not disturbed, promoting good management, clearing encroaching scrub and implementing beneficial grazing regimes. This work is vital if these habitats are to survive; you can help by supporting your local Wildlife Trust and becoming a member or volunteer.