Family Old World Flycatchers and Chats (Muscicapidae)

Least Concern

White-crowned Wheatear (Oenanthe leucopyga)


French: Traquet à tête blanche German: Saharasteinschmätzer Spanish: Collalba yebélica
Other common names: White-tailed Wheatear

Vitiflora leucopyga

C. L. Brehm

, 1855,

Kurusku, Upper Egypt


Geographical variation possibly clinal; some specimens of nominate race along Red Sea coast indistinguishable from ernesti. Proposed race aegra (W & C Sahara) synonymized with nominate. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • O. l. leucopyga (C. L. Brehm, 1855) – W & C Sahara E to Egypt and Sudan, Eritrea and Djibouti.
  • O. l. ernesti R. Meinertzhagen, 1930 – S Israel, W & S Jordan and NE Egypt (Sinai) S to C & E Arabia, possibly also Yemen and Oman.
  • Descriptive notes

    17 cm; 23–39 g. Nominate race is glossy black, with white crown (above eye), vent, rump and tail, latter with black central feathers and sometimes a suggestion of (sub)... read more


    Song (mainly by male at dawn and dusk, but female and even young occasionally sing; from perch,... read more


    Breeding range lies almost entirely within driest and hottest areas of Africa and S Middle East,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Invertebrates, small vertebrates, some fruit. Beetles (including Buprestidae and tenebrionid larvae), crickets, ant-lions, small wasps,... read more


    Jan–Feb in Mauritania; Jan–May in N Africa and Sudan, apparent peak Mar–Apr in NW; Mar–Jul in C Sahara; end Feb to... read more


    Sedentary; also local migrant. In NW Africa may move S in winter, with local increases in numbers... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Nominate race sometimes rather local but generally abundant in suitable habitat; density varies, presumably with habitat quality. In Morocco common... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. (2019). White-crowned Wheatear (Oenanthe leucopyga). 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 7 December 2019).