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Black-eared Wheatear - BirdForum Opus

Male hispanica
Photo © by sdaly
Andalucia, Southern Spain
Oenanthe hispanica

Inlcudes Western and Eastern Black-eared Wheatear


Male melanoleuca without black throat
Photo © by scottishdude
Lesvos, Greece, May 2011

13.5-15.5 cm (5¼-6 in).
Male - white forehead and crown, buff mantle, black wings, underparts are white tinged with buff, white back, upper tail coverts and tail, black ear coverts, black line from the bill, sometimes black throat.

In autumn and winter the head and mantle are distinctly buff, as are the underparts, including the throat, but the buff varies in intensity.

Female - browner bird, and her seasonal changes are less marked. Can show a dark chin and face in autumn.


Photo © by scottishdude
Dumistan, Bahrain, October 2009

Males of the eastern race (as seen in Cyprus, for example) are much paler above than the western form. They can look almost black and white in strong sunlight, with just a pale sandy brown colouration.

Also, males of both the eastern and western forms come in two colour morphs - pale throated and black throated. The black throated form is said to be commoner in the eastern subspecies and the white-throated in the western subspecies.

Similar Species

Identification of younger birds of this species versus Pied Wheatear is discussed in a [thread] in the Identification forum.


The "western" subspecies hispanica is found from southern Europe and northern Africa to Senegal and Mali.
"Eastern Black-eared Wheatear" (subspecies melanoleuca) is found in south-east Europe to Iran and the Caspian Sea, migrating to northern Africa.



Photo © by Bert
Alentejo, Portugal, September 2017

Two subspecies are recognized[1]:

Some authorities propose to give full species status to both, named Western Black-eared Wheatear and Eastern Black-eared Wheatear.


Stony mountainous slopes, usually below 600 m; open countryside, maybe with a few trees.



The diet includes insects.


Nests in holes among rocks and walls, or under tussocks of grass.


Click on photo for larger image


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Collins Field Guide 5th Edition
  3. Collins Bird Guide ISBN 0 00 219728 6

Recommended Citation

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