Family Old World Flycatchers and Chats (Muscicapidae)

Least Concern

Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica)


French: Traquet oreillard German: Mittelmeer-Steinschmätzer Spanish: Collalba rubia

Motacilla hispanica


, 1758,



Sometimes considered conspecific with O. pleschanka, which see; the two hybridize where breeding ranges overlap (e.g. in Bulgaria and N Iran), with no evidence of assortative mating, and may be better reunited as one species. Race melanoleuca fairly distinct, but intergrades with nominate (amount of black on mask/throat increases from W to E), although genetic analyses intimate that latter taxon is most divergent within the entire O. hispanica, O. cypriaca and O. pleschanka group#R. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • O. h. hispanica (Linnaeus, 1758) – Western Black-eared Wheatear – Iberian Peninsula E to Italy and N Croatia, and NW Africa (E to NW Libya); winters in W African Sahel (E to Niger and N Nigeria).
  • O. h. melanoleuca (Güldenstädt, 1775) – Eastern Black-eared Wheatear – SC & SE Europe (E from S Italy and Croatia), Asia Minor and Levant E to Caspian Sea, SW Kazakhstan and N, W & S Iran; winters in C & E Sahel and NE Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    13·5–15·5 cm; 12–21 g. Both sexes of both races occur as two morphs, one having a narrow dark mask with the rest of the face and throat pale, the... read more


    Song of two types: one a series of short (1–3 seconds) phrases with intervals of 2–7... read more


    Breeds in warm climatic zone in stony, scrubby, often broken terrain (slopes and foothills) around... read more

    Food and feeding

    Invertebrates, berries and seeds. In Europe mainly hymenopterans, coleopterans and lepidopteran larvae. In SE Spain, main food in spring... read more


    Mar–Jun in NW Africa; from late Apr in Spain (most clutches laid second half May), from early May in Greece; early Apr to mid-Jul in... read more


    Migratory. Moves on broad front across Mediterranean and Sahara, wintering in African Sahel, with... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Population in Europe (50% of global total) in mid-1990s estimated at 641,403–790,042 pairs (of which 513,000–620,000 in Spain), with... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. (2019). Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 9 December 2019).