The Puff and Roll

An interesting behaviour displayed by the Stoliczka’s Bushchat is the ‘puff and roll’ display. I can’t find any references in research as to why they do it. It is clearly not a mating display – that much is clear from whatever I have read. The bird will fly to the ground, stand upright, push their heads back a bit, puff out their under-parts, making them take on a ball-like shape and then rock their body from side to side. All this while it remains  stationary. It is a very short display and lasts less than a few seconds and is repeated a few times.

The ‘puff and roll’ display is thought to be linked to feeding but no one has quite figured out the why and the how. Infact, just a few seconds before I managed to capture this display, the Bushchat had been feeding on an insect (which I couldn’t capture). So, maybe there is something to that theory or maybe it was just a coincidence (confirmation bias?)

The individual that we saw was also quite aggressive in chasing out the Desert Wheatear in the area whenever they would occupy perches that this one was eyeing – an aggression that I was not aware of before and one that you would not attribute looking at this gentle-looking bird. 

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