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Mountain Wheatear - BirdForum Opus

Male Mountain Wheatear
Photo by GarethH
Photo Taken: Suikerbosrand NR, South Africa
Myrmecocichla monticola

Oenanthe monticola


Length 18-20 cm, mass about 35 g.

Adult male: There are several colour morphs; body plumage may be pale grey or black, and the crown may be white, grey or black. The wings are very dark brown or black with a white shoulder patch which varies in size (sometimes all black). The tail pattern is distinctive, with a white rump and outer tail feathers. The legs and pointed bill are black.

Adult female: Dark brown, with a white rump and outer tail.

Female Mountain Wheatear
Photo by Alan Manson
Qwantani Resort, Sterkfontein Dam, Free State, South Africa


Graphic by Nrg800

Namibia, South Africa, Lesotho, western Swaziland extreme southern Botswana and western Angola.


Formerly classed as a member of the Thrush family (Turdidae), but is now more generally considered to be an Old-World Flycatcher (Family Muscicapidae).
Previously placed in genus Oenanthe.


Four subspecies are recognized[1].

  • M. m. albipileata - Coastal Angola (Benguela escarpment)
  • M. m. nigricauda - Angola (highlands of Huambo and southern Cuanza Sul)
  • M. m. atmorii - Northern Namibia (south to Damaraland)
  • M. m. monticola - Southern Namibia, South Africa (east to Limpopo and western KwaZulu-Natal), Lesotho, and western Swaziland


Mountains and rocky areas.


Food: Mainly insects, but also other invertebrates, seeds and berries.

Breeding: Nests on the ground amongst rocks; 2-4 white eggs are laid June to March.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ & Ryan PG (eds) 2005. Robert's Birds of Southern Africa, 7th edition. John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town, South Africa. ISBN 0620340533

External Links

Male Mountain Wheatear - black-bellied morph
Photo by safariranger
Daan Viljoen Game Reserve, Namibia
Male Mountain Wheatear - black-crowned morph
Photo by Megan Perkins
Daan Viljoen Game Reserve, Namibia