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: Uncommon vagrant. Northern Mockingbird is gray overall, lacks mask, has two white wingbars, and light eyes.


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