Oenanthe oenanthe (Northern wheatear, European wheatear) 

Europese skaapwagter [Afrikaans]; Leucorhoa [Dutch]; Traquet motteux [French]; Steinschmätzer [German]; Chasco-cinzento [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Muscicapidae > Genus: Oenanthe

Oenanthe oenanthe (Northern wheatear, European wheatear)  Oenanthe oenanthe (Northern wheatear, European wheatear) 

Northern wheatear, Cork, Ireland. [photo Sean Cronin ©]

Northern wheatear, New York State, USA. [photo Christopher L Wood ©]

Distribution and habitat

It breeds across the northern Hemisphere in North America and Eurasia, heading south in the non-breeding season to sub-Saharan Africa, from Mauritania east to south-eastern Egypt and south to Zambia. It is a vagrant to southern Africa, with about 20 records in northern Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe, southern Mozambique and north-eastern South Africa. It generally prefers open, degraded Acacia savanna with short grass, barren boulder-strewn hillsides, burnt grassland, croplands, disturbed Baikiaea plurijuga (Zambezi teak) and Terminalia woodland with dense grass and weeds, cattle pens and recently cleared woodland with stumps


It mainly eats invertebrates, using a variety of foraging techniques such as pouncing on prey on the ground or in the air  in sallies from a perch, gleaning food from vegetation and chasing and catching prey on the ground. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 




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