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Northern Wheatear

From Opus

MalePhoto by Paul Hackett
Photo by Paul Hackett
Oenanthe oenanthe


[edit] Identification

14·5–15·5 cm (5¾-6 in) length
White rump, basal tail patches with black centre and terminal band.
Breeding Male

  • Grey upperparts
  • Buff throat
  • Black wings and face mask
  • White stripe above the eye
Male Seebohm's WheatearPhoto by Ornitho26. Ifrane, Morocco; June 2008.
Male Seebohm's Wheatear
Photo by Ornitho26. Ifrane, Morocco; June 2008.


  • Sandy-brown above and buff below
  • Eye patch and wings are brown

Autumnal male, female and juvenile are browner in the autumn.

[edit] Distribution

Europe, Asia, Africa, North America and Greenland.
Europe: Breeds in most of Europe including for example Iceland and the Faroe Islands, in the south only at higher elevation. These populations winter in Africa.
North America and Greenland: Populations breeding in Greenland and eastern Canada migrates to Africa (via western Europe). Populations breeding in Alaska and northwestern Canada migrate by a western route through Asia and the Middle East to eastern Africa south of the Sahara. Both of these populations give rise to vagrants seen further south in the Americas and The Caribbean.
Asia: Breeds across the entire northern half of the continent, migrating to sub-Saharan Africa.
Africa: As long as the taxon O. o. seebohmi is considered part of Northern Wheatear, there are breeding birds in the Atlas Mountains of northwestern Africa. Africa is important as the winter range for almost all populations, in a broad belt from Senegal east to Sudan and south in eastern Africa to Zambia. A few also winter in southwest Asia.

[edit] Taxonomy

Female Seebohm's WheatearPhoto by Ornitho26. Ifrane, Morocco; June 2008.
Female Seebohm's Wheatear
Photo by Ornitho26. Ifrane, Morocco; June 2008.

This thread discusses aspects of Northern Wheatear taxonomy.

[edit] Subspecies

Three to four subspecies are currently accepted:[1]

  • O. o. leucorhoa (Greenland Wheatear)
North-eastern Canada to Greenland and Iceland; migrates through western Europe to western Africa. Slightly larger and more orangey-toned.
  • O. o. oenanthe
British Isles to Mediterranean, Siberia and Alaska; migrates to central and eastern Africa.
  • O. o. libanotica
Southern Spain and Balearic Is. to Iran, Kazakhstan and Mongolia. Marginally paler and longer-billed.
  • O. o. seebohmi (Seebohm's Wheatear)
Morocco to north-eastern Algeria; migrates to Mauritania. Black throat on males; females greyer-toned than O. o. oenanthe.
Split as a separate species Oenanthe seebohmi by some authors[2].

[edit] Habitat

Rocky tundra, grazed slopes with short turf and rocky outcrops, hill pastures, sand dunes.

[edit] Behaviour

[edit] Diet

Diet consists mosly of insects such as beetles and ants, also some berries at times.

[edit] Breeding

Nest is on ground on dry tundra, usually in hole in a wall, under stones, or in old rabbit burrow. and is a cup of grass, twigs, weeds, lined with finer material such as moss, lichens, rootlets. The clutch is usually 5-6 pale blue eggs; unmarked, or with fine reddish brown dots, which are incubated by the female for 13-14 days.

[edit] Vocalisation

Listen in an external program

[edit] Gallery

Click on photo for larger image

[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. Svensson, L., Mullarney, K., & Zetterström, D. (2009). Collins Bird Guide, 2nd edition. Collins ISBN 978 0 00 726814 6
  3. Wikipedia
  4. Birdwatchers Pocket Guide ISBN 1-85732-804-3
  5. houghtonmifflinbooks
  6. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved September 2016)
  7. BF member personal observation

[edit] External Links


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