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Northern Wheatear

Northern Wheatear (male)
Scientific classification
Family: Muscicapidae
Genus: Oenanthe
Species: oenanthe
Binomial name
Oenanthe oenanthe

The Northern Wheatear or Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe is a small passerine bird that was formerly classed as a member of the Thrush family Turdidae, but is now more generally considered to be an Old World flycatcher, Muscicapidae.

It is the most widespread member of the wheatear genus Oenanthe in Europe and Asia.

Its English name has nothing to do with wheat or ears, but is a bowdlerised form of white-arse, which refers to its prominent white rump.

It is a migratory insectivorous species breeding in open stony country in Europe and Asia with a foothold in eastern Canada and Greenland. It tests in rock crevices and rabbit burrows.

All birds winter in Africa, which makes the large, bright Greenland race leucorhea one of the most impressive long-distance migrants.

Northern Wheatear is larger than the European Robin. Both sexes have a white rump and tail, with a black inverted T-pattern at the terminal end of the tail.

The summer male has grey upperparts, buff throat and black wings and face mask. In autumn it resembles the female apart from the black wings.

The female is pale brown above and buff below with darker brown wings.

The male has a whistling, crackly song. Its call is a typical Chat “chack” noise.