Family Old World Flycatchers and Chats (Muscicapidae)

Least Concern

Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)


Taxonomy

French: Traquet motteux German: Steinschmätzer Spanish: Collalba gris
Taxonomy:

Motacilla Oenanthe

Linnaeus

, 1758,

Sweden

.

Has in the past been considered conspecific with O. phillipsi. Usually considered conspecific with O. seebohmi. Birds in Iceland, Jan Mayen and Faroes included in race leucorhoa, but intermediate between that and nominate. Proposed races nivea (S Spain and Balearic Is) and virago (islands of E & S Aegean, in SE Europe) regarded as synonyms of libanotica. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • O. o. leucorhoa (J. F. Gmelin, 1789) – NE Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Jan Mayen and Faroe Is; non-breeding W Africa (mainly S Mauritania, Senegambia and C & S Mali).
  • O. o. oenanthe (Linnaeus, 1758) – N & C Europe and N Asia (S to N Kazakhstan and L Baikal) E to E Siberia (Chukotka) and NW North America (Alaska, NW Canada); non-breeding mainly Africa S of Sahara (S to N & E Zambia and Malawi), with small numbers in Morocco.
  • O. o. libanotica (Hemprich & Ehrenberg, 1833) – S Europe, Asia Minor, Levant, Transcaucasia, N & C Iran, Turkmenistan, N Afghanistan, Tien Shan, Mongolia, S Transbaikalia and N China (Xinjiang E to Shanxi); non-breeding mainly Africa S of Sahara.
  • Descriptive notes

    14·5–15·5 cm; 18–33 g (pre-migration leucorhoa up to 41 g). Breeding male nominate race is pale grey from crown to back, with black wings,... read more

    Voice

    Song, by male (also in winter quarters, usually subsong), from perch or in flight at 15–30 m... read more

    Habitat

    Breeds in open ground mixing bare rocky areas (foraging perches, nesting substrate) and short herb... read more

    Food and feeding

    Arthropods, mainly insects (predominantly beetles and ants, latter especially in hotter areas) taken on ground, supplemented by other... read more

    Breeding

    Apr–Jun (from May in High Atlas) in NW Africa; early May to Jun in C & S Europe, early/mid-Apr to end Jul or early Aug in NW... read more

    Movements

    Migrant, with remarkable capacity for long-distance travel, and possibly geographically widest... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Generally common throughout range; fairly common in N & NW China. Total wintering in Africa, thus representing global population... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. (2018). Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe). 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 https://www.hbw.com/node/58539 on 14 November 2018).