Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe   [Linnaeus, 1758]

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Order: Passeriformes Family: Turdidae
BTO Codes: W., WHEAT EURING No: 11460
Number in Britain: 230 thousand Pairs (Summer)
Conservation Status:
UK: AMBER
European: 3 Concern, most not in Europe; Declining
Global: (Details)
Status in UK: (A)  Migrant Breeder, Passage Visitor
Subspecies: oenanthe (BW), leucorhoa (P) recorded in Britain (of 4 subsp. in the world)
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Length: 15 cm Wingspan: 29 cm Weight: M/F: 24 g    
Scientific name from: Gr.: oinanthe a bird mentioned by Aristotle
World Distribution: BREEDS: Eurasia, nw Africa, n North America, Winters Africa
Habitat: Open country
Diet: Mostly insects, also other invertebrates and berries
TitBit: As the ice retreated northwards after the last ice-age, the breeding grounds of this migrant (and others) shifted northwards, the birds migrating back to Africa, even those that now breed in Alaska.  
Identification Tips:
  Images from IBC or search flickr
  Videos from IBC
  Sound from xeno-canto
Crossley ID photos BTO ID Workshop

Population and Distribution

Population Trend: BirdTrends   
Regional Trends: Scotland   Wales   England   English Regions
Distribution: Atlas Mapstore    BBS Maps
British Population Size:
    Summer: 230 thousand Pairs in 2009
    First Record: Recorded in Medieval times [Fossil evidence from Ipswichian (last) interglacial, c. 125,000 yr ago]
    Latest Survey: Newson, S.E. et al. (2008) Journal of Applied Ecology 45:1330-1338
    Conservation Status: AMBER because Species of European Concern,
   Previous Assessments: 2002-2007 GREEN     1996-2001 GREEN  
   Races of Concern: oenanthe AMBER (European Concern), leucorhoa GREEN
Habitat Occupancy (in the Breeding Season):
    Most frequent in: Moorland
    And found in: Grass/Heath
Relative Frequency in Each Habitat:
Migration routes: Map of foreign ringing recoveries
Average Day of First Arrival: 11 Mar
European Population Size:
    Summer: 4.1 to 11.5 million pairs   (Trend in Numbers)
Population Assesment from Birds in Europe
Distribution in Europe mapped by the EBCC Atlas
Listed on the Appendices/Schedules of: Bern(III), Bonn(II)
Survey Results: Results from BirdTrack

Breeding and Survival

Egg Size: 21 x 16 mm Egg Weight: 2.7 g (of which 5 % is shell)
Number of Nest Records: 94   (more would be welcome!)
Clutch Size: 5 - 6 eggs 5.45 ± 0.87 (2 - 8) N = 470
Incubation: 14 days 14.25 ± 0.99 (12.5 - 16.5) N = 470   by the: Female (occ. Male)
Fledging: 16 - 17days 15.54 ± 1.08 (13 - 16.5) N = 2140 as: Altricial, downy
Source:
British Trust for Ornithology (2005) Nest Record Scheme data
First Clutches Laid: 11 May (24 Apr - 11 Jun)
Number of Broods: 2(3)
See trends in Breeding Productivity
Number Ringed: Annual Totals
Adult Survival: 0.460    (M:0.500 ± 0.020; F:0.420 ± 0.020)      
Juvenile Survival: No data
Age at First Breeding: 1 year Typical Lifespan: 2 years
Maximum Recorded Age: 8 years 3 months 16 days (set in 2010)
Read a summary of Ringing Recoveries

Biometrics

Ring Size: A (pulli B)
Wing Length Adult: 99.9 ± 4.7 Range 93 - 107 mm, N =3168
Juvenile: 98.8 ± 4.2 93 - 106 mm, N =1256
Male: 101.3 ± 4.5 95 - 108 mm, N =1600
Female: 98.4 ± 4.4 92 - 105 mm, N =1533
Weight Adult: 28.20 ± 5.17 Range 22.10 - 38.80 g , N =3014
Juvenile: 25.37 ± 3.17 20.60 - 31.30 g , N =1138
Male: 28.89 ± 5.45 22.70 - 40.10 g , N =1524
Female: 27.52 ± 4.76 21.60 - 37.10 g , N =1456
Source:
British Trust for Ornithology (2005) Ringing Scheme data

Other Names

Northern Wheatear
Gaelic: Brù-gheal Welsh: Tinwen y Garn
Danish: Stenpikker Dutch: Tapuit
Finnish: Kivitasku French: Traquet motteux
German: Steinschmätzer Hungarian: Hantmadár
Icelandic: Steindepill Irish: Clochrán
Italian: Culbianco Norwegian: Steinskvett
Polish: Bialorzytka zwyczajna Portuguese: Chasco-cinzento
Spanish: Collalba gris Swedish: Stenskvätta
Local Names: White Arse

For More Information...

Books and Monographs:
   Conder, P. 1989 The wheatear Christopher Helm, London [598.911 CON]
   Panov, E.N. 2005 Wheatears of Palearctic [sic] Pensoft Publishers [598.911 PAN]
See Also:
Find scientific papers on Google Scholar or Scirus by clicking the icon
Wikipedia entry
HBW account (subscription required)
BirdLife species page
Recent sightings and information from BirdGuides