The Saxicolinae or Chats form a natural section of the Thrushes and to some extent lead from the true Thrushes to the Flycatchers.
They are well represented in the Indian Avifauna, though the greater number of species are migratory and very few are really permanent residents in the Plains. They have an autumn moult and a further seasonal spring change in coloration caused by the abrasion of the fringes of the feathers. The sexes are almost invariably dissimilar, sometimes strikingly, sometimes only slightly.
In the Chats the bill is strong and the rictal bristles well developed, sometimes very numerous and strong; the wing is pointed and is nearly always longer than the tail, which is almost square or is graduated. The tarsus is fairly long and strong.
Key to Genera.
A. Bill broad at "base; rictal bristles numerous and strong.
a. Tail decidedly shorter than wing and not
noticeably graduated Saxicola, p. 23.
b. Tail almost or quite as long as wing and very much graduated, the outermost feathers
falling short of the longest by about half the length of tarsus OREICOLA, p. 34.
B. Bill narrow and not strikingly broad at base ; rictal bristles moderate or weak.
c. Tail with a pattern of two colours AENANTHE, p. 38.
d. Tail all of one colour CERCOMELA, p. 54.