Family Old World Flycatchers and Chats (Muscicapidae)

Least Concern

Rusty-breasted Wheatear (Oenanthe frenata)


French: Traquet à poitrine rousse German: Braunbrust-Steinschmätzer Spanish: Collalba pechirroja

Saxicola frenata


, 1869,

Mensa, Ethiopian highlands


Hitherto treated as conspecific with O. bottae and clearly closely related, but differs in its darker pink-tinged rufous vs pinkish-buff breast (2); pale pinkish-rufous vs pinkish-white belly to undertail-coverts (ns[1]); smaller and more clear-cut white throat (2); continuously dark grey-brown upperparts vs dark grey-brown on crown grading to pale sandy-grey hind-collar and grey-brown upperparts (1); longer bill (effect size 2.37, score 2). Monotypic.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.

Highlands of Eritrea and Ethiopia.

Descriptive notes

16–17 cm; 35–37 g. Adult has crown and upperparts to lower back brown to dark grey-brown, narrow white supercilium extending from side of bill base back across top of lores... read more


Song a very short, rather loud sequence of fluty and scratchy notes, delivered from perch or in low... read more


Occupies tussock-grass, giant-heath moorlands and montane grass savanna, sometimes cultivated land... read more

Food and feeding

No information on diet. Forages terrestrially, by searching methodically.


Season Dec–Jul in Ethiopia. Nest constructed of dry grass, placed under boulder or in bank, wall or old rodent burrow. Eggs undescribed. No... read more


Resident; some may descend to lower elevations. Vagrant recorded in NW Somalia (May 2010). Two... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Generally uncommon or rare in Eritrea (just four records) and S Ethiopia, but locally common to abundant in W, C & SE highlands... read more

Recommended citation

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N., Christie, D.A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Rusty-breasted Wheatear (Oenanthe frenata). 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 22 January 2020).