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Abyssinian Wheatear

From Opus

MalePhoto © by volker sthamerTerre, Ethiopia,
Photo © by volker sthamer
Terre, Ethiopia,

Alternative name: Abyssinian Black Wheatear

Oenanthe lugubris

Includes Schalow's Wheatear


[edit] Identification

14-16 cm (5½-6¼ in)

Schalow's WheatearPhoto © by mikemikManyara, Tanzania, May 2018
Schalow's Wheatear
Photo © by mikemik
Manyara, Tanzania, May 2018

[edit] Male

  • Dirty brown crown with black streaks
  • Black wings and upper back, orange-buff lower back
  • Whitish panel on upperwing in flight
  • Black breast and flanks
  • Lower breast and belly whitish or blackish
  • Orange-buff rump and undertail-coverts
  • Black bill and legs

[edit] Female

  • Dark brownish plumage
  • Whitish vent and undertail-coverts
  • Streakish underparts

[edit] Variations

  • vaurei has a pale greyish-buff crown and a small white panel in the open wing,
  • schalowi is slightly brown-tinged dorsally, has a more rufous-tinged rump and tail and always a white belly.

[edit] Distribution

Found in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania in three isolated populations.
Frequent to common in its range.

[edit] Taxonomy

[edit] Subspecies

Three subspecies recognized:

schalowi is sometimes accepted as full species. Furthermore this species was thought to be conspecific with Mourning Wheatear in the past and Arabian Wheatear has been included here in the past.

[edit] Habitat

Desert or semi-desert country with boulders and often caves for shelters. Sometimes in villages.
In Ethiopia on moors and plughed fields from 1200 to 4000 m.

[edit] Behaviour

[edit] Diet

Feeds mainly on ants. Takes also beetles, grasshoppers, butterflies and other insects.
Undertakes bound-and-grab manoeuvres to catch prey, also sallying in air after flying insects and by flying down onto prey from low perch.

[edit] Breeding

Breeding season March to August in Ethiopia and October to July in Kenya (with a possible peak in March). Double-brooded. The nest is a loose flat cup made by dry grass, stems and roots. It's placed in a hole deep in the rock, a cliff, a bank or a wall, also in rodent hole. Lays 1 to 3 eggs.

[edit] Movements

Probably a sedentary species.

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from
  2. Gill, F and D Donsker (Eds). 2014. IOC World Bird Names (version 4.3). Available at
  3. Avibase

[edit] External Links


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