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Pinarornis plumosus (Boulder chat) 

Swartberglyster [Afrikaans]; Steenspringer [Dutch]; Rochassier des éboulis [French]; Steindroßling [German]; Chasco-das-rochas [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Muscicapidae

Pinarornis plumosus (Boulder chat)   

Boulder chat, Mmabolela Farm, Limpopo Province, South Africa. [photo Gareth H ©]


Distribution and habitat

Near endemic to southern Africa, occurring from eastern Botswana to Zimbabwe and northern Mozambique, marginally extending into Angola and Zambia. It mainly occupies well-wooded granite outcrops, batholiths and hills, where there are scattered granite boulders around the top and scree slopes at the base. If in area becomes to densely vegetated it often deserts the place permanently.

Distribution of Boulder chat in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common).

Brood parasites

It has been recorded as host of the Red-chested cuckoo.


It mainly eats arthropods and small lizards, doing some of its foraging on the ground beneath boulders and rocks, occasionally in leaf litter. It may hawk insects aerially from a perch on a rock, and it also clumsily hovers next to trees, gleaning food from their leaves and branches.


  • The nest is cup built of bark, leaves and twigs, set into a foundation of earth clods and lined with leaf petioles. It is typically placed underneath a boulder, in a cavity between two rocks or next to a log.
  • Egg-laying season is from September-January, peaking from October-November.
  • It lays 2-4 eggs, which are incubated for about 13-14 days.
  • The chicks leave the nest at about 16-20 days old, before they can fly, after which they hide under boulders until they fledge. They may still remain dependent on their parents until the following breeding season


Not threatened, although it deserts any areas which become infested with the alien Cherry-pie (Lantana camara), which may cause problems for it in the future.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.