Family Old World Flycatchers and Chats (Muscicapidae)

Least Concern

Mountain Wheatear (Myrmecocichla monticola)


French: Traquet montagnard German: Bergschmätzer Spanish: Zorzal hormiguero montano

Œnanthe monticola


, 1818,

Namaqualand, south-west Africa


Previously placed in Oenanthe, but moved here based on genetic results#R#R. Proposed race griseiceps (E Northern Cape, in South Africa) synonymized with nominate. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. m. nigricauda (Traylor, 1961) – S Cuanza Sul and Huambo, in W Angola.
  • M. m. albipileata (Bocage, 1867) – coastal SW Angola S from Benguela.
  • M. m. atmorii (Tristram, 1869) – W Namibia N to R Cunene.
  • M. m. monticola (Vieillot, 1818) – S Namibia, South Africa (E to C Northern Province and W KwaZulu-Natal), W Swaziland and Lesotho.
  • Descriptive notes

    17–20 cm; 31–35 g. Male dimorphic, but with colour variations within both morphs. Male nominate race black morph is black, including bill and legs, except for... read more


    Song, usually in twilight (sometimes 2–3 hours before sunrise, and all night in moonlight),... read more


    Dry hilly landscapes with rocky ground and usually scrub and grass, including open boulder-strewn... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly arthropods, including grasshoppers, ants and spiders, with cutworms and other larvae, grasshoppers, crickets, spiders, small beetles... read more


    Recorded in most months of year, with distinct peaks in Sept–Nov in winter-rainfall regions of Cape, Nov in Northern Province, Jan... read more


    Resident, but probably local nomadic movements in drier areas.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Considered common in much of range. In South Africa, may have benefited from spread of erosion gulleys caused by overgrazing in Eastern Cape.

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. (2020). Mountain Wheatear (Myrmecocichla monticola). 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 17 February 2020).