Family Old World Flycatchers and Chats (Muscicapidae)

Least Concern

Capped Wheatear (Oenanthe pileata)


French: Traquet du Cap German: Erdsteinschmätzer Spanish: Collalba capirotada

Motacilla pileata

J. F. Gmelin

, 1789,

Cape of Good Hope, South Africa


Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • O. p. livingstonii (Tristram, 1868) – C Kenya S to E & N Botswana, W Swaziland and E South Africa (S to N North West Province).
  • O. p. neseri Macdonald, 1952 – Angola and Namibia (except SW), W & S Botswana and N South Africa (N Northern Cape).
  • O. p. pileata (J. F. Gmelin, 1789) – SW Namibia and South Africa (except N & E).
  • Descriptive notes

    16–17 cm; 24–32 g. Nominate race is black on crown and face down neck side to breast, with white lower forehead and supercilium, white chin and throat; dark brown... read more


    Song (often at night) a series of brief variable phrases, mainly 1–2 (up to 7) seconds long... read more


    Dry grassy plains, especially recently burnt or heavily grazed areas, often with scattered bushes... read more

    Food and feeding

    Arthropods, especially ants, flies, locusts, beetles, bugs, bees, wasps, termites, arachnids, lucerne butterflies, and caterpillars; in the... read more


    Pattern complex in E Africa, thus Apr in W Kenya, Apr–Jul, Sept and Dec–Jan in S Kenya and E Tanzania, and Apr–May and... read more


    Complex and poorly understood. Dry-season breeding visitor to lowland Kenya and Tanzania (sedentary... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common to abundant in Kenyan and Tanzanian highlands. Common in lowland E Africa, with a mean of 76 birds/km² in Serengeti; also present in Mara Game... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. (2020). Capped Wheatear (Oenanthe pileata). 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 28 February 2020).