Northern Wheatear

Oenanthe oenanthe




Old World Flycatchers (Muscicapidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Pale blue with red brown flecks

Number of Eggs:

3 - 8

Incubation Days:


Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

In rock crevice or wood pile, On ground or cliff ridge.

Nest Material:

Lined with finer materials., Grass, roots, moss.





Northern Wheatear: Small thrush (oenanthe), with gray upperparts and black wings, mask, and tail. Underparts are white except for buff-brown wash on throat, breast, and flanks. Female is duller and lacks mask.

Range and Habitat

Northern Wheatear: Breeds in Alaska and parts of northern Canada; also Eurasia. Eastern Canada birds migrate east through Greenland and Europe, and winter in Africa. Alaska and northwestern Canada birds cross the Bering Strait and make a long westward flight across Asia, also wintering mostly in Africa. Found in grasslands, rocky tundra, and barren slopes.

Breeding and Nesting

Northern Wheatear: Three to eight pale blue eggs, with red brown flecks, are laid in a nest made of grass, roots and moss, lined with finer materials, and built in a rock crevice, wood pile, on the ground, or on a cliff ridge. Eggs are incubated for 14 days mostly by the female.

Foraging and Feeding

Northern Wheatear: Eats insects, fruits, seeds, small bulbs, centipedes, and snails. Forages mostly on the ground, running short distances and then stopping to pick up items; runs and flutters in pursuit of fleeing insects; also watches from a low perch, flying down to take prey on the ground. Sometimes flies out to catch insects in mid-air.

Readily Eats

Raisins, Currants, Nut Meal


Northern Wheatear: Song is often given in flight; imitates other birds, combining call notes into a scratchy jumble of warbled notes. Also utters a bossy "chack-chack" and whistled "hweet."

Similar Species

Northern Wheatear: Brown Shrike is smaller and has shorter bill.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
The upper front part of a bird.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X