Red-flanked bluetail

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Red-flanked bluetail
Tarsiger cyanurus.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Muscicapidae
Genus: Tarsiger
T. cyanurus
Binomial name
Tarsiger cyanurus
(Pallas, 1773)
TarsigerCyanurusIUCNver2019 1.png
Range of T. cyanurus

Luscinia cyanura
Erithacus cyanurus

The red-flanked bluetail (Tarsiger cyanurus), also known as the orange-flanked bush-robin, is a small passerine bird that was formerly classed as a member of the thrush family Turdidae, but is now more generally considered to be an Old World flycatcher, Muscicapidae. It, and related species, are often called chats.


It is a migratory insectivorous species breeding in mixed coniferous forest with undergrowth in northern Asia and northeastern Europe, from Finland east across Siberia to Kamchatka and south to Japan. It winters mainly in southeastern Asia, in the Indian Subcontinent, the Himalayas, Taiwan, and northern Indochina. The breeding range is slowly expanding westwards through Finland (where up to 500 pairs now breed), and it is a rare but increasing vagrant to western Europe, mainly to Great Britain.[2][3][4] There have also been a few records in westernmost North America, mostly in western Alaska, but one on San Clemente Island off the southern California coast.[5][6]


At 13–14 cm long and 10–18 g weight, the red-flanked bluetail is similar in size and weight to the common redstart and slightly smaller (particularly with a slimmer build) than the European robin. As the name implies, both sexes have a blue tail and rump, and orange-red flanks; they also have a white throat and greyish-white underparts, and a small, thin black bill and slender black legs. The adult male additionally has dark blue upperparts, while females and immature males are plain brown above apart from the blue rump and tail, and have a dusky breast. In behaviour, it is similar to a common redstart, frequently flicking its tail in the same manner, and regularly flying from a perch to catch insects in the air or on the ground. The male sings its melancholy trill from treetops. Its call is a typical chat "tacc" noise. The nest is built on or near the ground, with 3–5 eggs which are incubated by the female.[2][7]

Taxonomy and nomenclature[edit]

The genus name Tarsiger is from Ancient Greek tarsos, "flat of the foot" and Latin gerere, "to carry". The specific cyanurus is also derived from Greek, the roots being kuanos, "dark-blue", and oura, "tail".[8]

In the past generally treated as comprising two subspecies, T. c. cyanurus breeding in northern Asia and T. c. rufilatus breeding in the Himalaya, it is now increasingly being treated as monotypic, with T. c. rufilatus split off as a distinct species, Himalayan bluetail T. rufilatus. The species has also been known by a variety of English and scientific names in the ornithological literature. The table below details the treatments adopted by some major works, by publication date (newest first):

Publication English name Scientific name Taxonomic notes
IOC standard list, version 2.5[9] Red-flanked bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus monotypic; excludes rufilatus
Collins Bird Guide[7] Red-flanked bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus
IOC standard list, version 1[10] Red-flanked bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus polytypic; includes rufilatus
Clements Checklist (6th edition)[11] Red-flanked bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus polytypic; includes rufilatus
Birds of South Asia[12] Northern red-flanked bush-robin Tarsiger cyanurus monotypic; rufilatus split off
HBW[13] Orange-flanked bush-robin Tarsiger cyanurus polytypic; includes rufilatus, although split suggested
Howard & Moore (3rd edition)[14] Orange-flanked bush robin Luscinia cyanura polytypic; includes rufilatus
OBC Checklist[15] Orange-flanked bush robin Tarsiger cyanurus polytypic; includes rufilatus
Howard & Moore (2nd edition)[16] Red-flanked bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus polytypic; includes rufilatus
BWP[17] Red-flanked bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus polytypic; includes rufilatus
Voous[18] Red-flanked bluetail or
orange-flanked bush robin
Tarsiger cyanurus polytypic; includes rufilatus


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Tarsiger cyanurus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2013.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  2. ^ a b del Hoyo, J.; et al., eds. (2005). Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 10. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. pp. 754. ISBN 84-87334-72-5.
  3. ^ British Birds Rarities Committee occurrences, 1950-2006
  4. ^ Hudson, N. et al. (2009). Report on rare birds in Great Britain in 2008. British Birds 102: 572-573.
  5. ^ National Geographic (1999). Field Guide to the Birds of North America 3rd ed. ISBN 0-7922-7451-2.
  6. ^ eBird: Red-flanked Bluetail in California (Dec 2011)
  7. ^ a b Svensson, L., Mullarney, K., & Zetterström, D. (2009) Collins Bird Guide, ed. 2. ISBN 0-00-219728-6, pages 260-1
  8. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London, United Kingdom: Christopher Helm. pp. 128, 379. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  9. ^ IOC World Bird List, version 2.5 (2010). Family Muscicapidae
  10. ^ Gill, Frank and Minturn Wright (2006) Birds of the World: Recommended English Names ISBN 978-0-7136-7904-5, page 175
  11. ^ Clements, James F. (2007) The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World 6th edition ISBN 978-0-8014-4501-9, page 456
  12. ^ Rasmussen, Pamela C. and John C. Anderton (2005) Birds of South Asia. The Ripley Guide ISBN 84-87334-67-9, volume 2, page 394
  13. ^ del Hoyo, Josep, Andy Elliot & David Christie (2005) Handbook of the Birds of the World volume 10 ISBN 84-87334-72-5, pages 754-5
  14. ^ Dickinson, Edward C. (2003) The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World 3rd edition ISBN 0-7136-6536-X, page 677
  15. ^ Inskipp, Tim, Nigel Lindsey and William Duckworth (1996) An Annotated Checklist of the Birds of the Oriental Region ISBN 0-9529545-0-8, page 144
  16. ^ Howard, Richard and Alick Moore (1991) The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World 2nd edition ISBN 0-12-356910-9, page 316
  17. ^ Cramp, S. (1988) The Birds of the Western Palearctic volume 5. ISBN 978-0-19-857508-5
  18. ^ Voous, Karel H. (1977) List of Recent Holarctic Bird Species ISBN 0-907446-13-2, page 43