Family Old World Flycatchers and Chats (Muscicapidae)

Least Concern

Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka)


French: Traquet pie German: Nonnensteinschmätzer Spanish: Collalba pía

Motacilla pleschanka


, 1770,

Saratov, lower Volga, south-west Russia


See comments under O. cypriaca and O. hispanica. Has been treated under name O. leucomela, but pleschanka has priority. Names “gaddi” (Iran) and “aurita” (NW Kazakhstan) refer to hybrids between present species and O. hispanica melanoleuca, while “vittata” is postulated to represent a colour morph of present species (most literature) or to reflect ancient hybridization between O. pleschanka and O. hispanica E of the Caspian#R; the apparent scarcity of individuals displaying the “vittata” phenotype in other areas where the two species hybridize, yet its relative abundance beyond the easternmost range of O. hispanica melanoleuca, give greater credence to the colour morph theory. Monotypic.


SE Europe (from NE Bulgaria, E Romania and S Moldova) E, discontinuously, to S Urals, Mongolia, Transbaikalia, C & W Afghanistan, N Pakistan, NW Himalayas and NE China; winters in NE Africa and SW Arabian Peninsula.

Descriptive notes

14·5–16 cm; 16–22 g. Male breeding has white crown (through eye) to nape and around rear ear-coverts, mid-crown sullied buff-grey in fresh plumage; black... read more


Song, often in high circling display-flight (ends in remarkable plunge to earth), a series of very... read more


Arid rocky desolate semi-desert, desert stony stretches with scattered boulders, stony slopes,... read more

Food and feeding

Invertebrates, mainly ants and beetles, supplemented with fruit in autumn. Animal food includes beetles of at least six families, ants and... read more


From early May in Ukraine; May–Jun in Afghanistan, to Aug in N Pakistan; main fledging period in Russia (Altai) last third Jun, and... read more


Migratory. Leaves breeding grounds Aug to late Oct, latest in Mongolia early Sept; in Kazakhstan... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. European population in mid-1990s estimated at 2601–5714 pairs, with additional 100,000–1,000,000 pairs in Russia and 50–1000 pairs... read more

Recommended citation

Collar, N. (2019). Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka). 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 12 December 2019).