White-tailed Wheatear (Oenanthe leucopyga)

White-tailed Wheatear

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Muscicapidae | [latin] Oenanthe leucopyga | [UK] White-tailed Wheatear | [FR] Traquet a tete blanche | [DE] Sahara-Steinschmatzer | [ES] Collalba negra de Brehm | [NL] Witkruintapuit


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range

Physical charateristics

Rather large, oval-headed and oval-bodied, glossy black wheatear, with bold white rump and tail often showing only black central line. Somewhat less plump than Black Wheatear but with slightly longer, more pointed wings, distinctly larger than Eastern Pied Wheatear, with longer wings.
Adults of both sexes have white crown. Sexes similar, no seasonal variation.

Listen to the sound of White-tailed Wheatear

[audio:http://www.aviflevoland.nl/sounddb/W/White-tailed Wheatear.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 27 cm wingspan max.: 29 cm
size min.: 17 cm size max.: 18 cm
incubation min.: 14 days incubation max.: 17 days
fledging min.: 14 days fledging max.: 17 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 5  


Africa, Eurasia : North Africa to North, Central Arabian Peninsula


Across Afro-Arabian lower middle latitudes, Mediterranean to subtropical and tropical. A true Saharan species characteristic of desert with less than 100 mm annual precipitation. Frequents the most impoverished localities, at all altitudes up to 3000 m, especially rocky and sometimes earthen banks of wadis, but also oases.


February-May in North-West African Sahara, March-April in Egypt and Sinai, mid february in Arabia. Nest site is built in hole in rocks, under stones, in bank, or occasionally in wall of building.
Nest is cup of dry grass, lined with wool and feathers, sometimes with base of twigs or bits of wood. 3-5 eggs, incubation 14 days tended by female.

Feeding habits

Mainly insects, but diet notably diverse, including plant material and small reptiles. Catches prey in flight, on ground, or in bushes.
Typically perches on low vantage points and drops down or sallies forth, up to 10 m away, to take prey from ground in manner of a shrike. At moment of capture, frequently spreads wings, sometimes repeatedly, perhaps to confuse and entrap prey.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
White-tailed Wheatear status Least Concern


Largely sedentary throughout range, though some individuals or populations may make short-distance movements in winter: thus in some regions of Tunisia apparently recorded most frequently September-February which suggests breeding elsewhere, and at Helwan (Egypt) present only in winter. Single records in Cyprus, March, and Malta, April. Occasional records in Oman, Kuwait, and Qatar are in areas where breeding could occur and need not necessarily indicate movement within Arabian peninsula.

Distribution map

White-tailed Wheatear distribution range map

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