The Brown Rock Chat (Oenanthe Fusca), better known as Indian Chat, is a residential bird whose ideal habitat is cliffs, old buildings, and buildings around habitations. This bird’s sighting is very common in the Inter State Chandigarh Region (ISCR) from hilly areas to the plains. The sound of chee-chee or chek-check coming from bushes and dense cultivation is a sign of the bird’s presence in the surrounding.
Males and females are alike. They are identical in their uniformly rufous-brown with the wings and tail of a slightly darker shade. The brown on the undersides grades into a dark grey-brown vest. Like many other small size birds, the Indian Chat also does not like to sit in one place for a long time. It changes its spots frequently, wagging its tail up and down.
Sometimes people mistake the Indian Chat for the female Indian Robin, which is also brown in colour contrary to the black colour of the male Indian Robin. But Indian Chats lack a red vent which is an identifying feature in the female Indian Robin. I observed this bird very closely during a visit to Sherla Ka Taal, a waterbody in Morni hills, in March this year. It is around 17cm in total length. It mainly feeds on insects.
This bird has a wide variety of calls. Ornithologists have observed around eight different kinds of calls from this bird. And every call is related to a separate activity—territorial calls will be different from the begging calls, which will be different from the feeding calls, alarm calls, threat calls etc.
Mostly found in pairs, its breeding season extends from spring to summer and raises more than one brood. The foundation of its nest is made up of pebbles and clay. The nest is a cup of grass, hair, and clods placed on a ledge in a roadside cutting, wall or window, sometimes even on occupied houses. The eggs are incubated by the female alone. Chicks leave the nest about two weeks after being hatched.