White-crowned Wheatears

Wheatears

White-crowned Wheatears

The White-crowned Wheatear, or White-crowned Black Wheatear, Oenanthe leucopyga, is a wheatear, 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.

This large 17-18 cm long wheatear breeds in stony deserts from the Sahara and Arabia across to Iraq. It is largely resident but as occurred as a rare vagrant to western Europe as far away as Great Britain. It nests in crevices in rocks or walls laying 3-5 eggs.

Although most wheatear species have distinctive male and female plumages, adults of both sexes of this species are black except for a white rump and mainly white tail. Full adults have a white crown, not shown by young birds.

The similar Black Wheatear, Oenanthe leucura, also breeds in the western part of the White-crowned Wheatear's range, but the latter has a black inverted T on its white tail, whereas White-crowned has only a black centre to its tail. The Black Wheatear never has a white crown.

This species mainly eats insects. This wheatear has a loud song, more varied than most of its relatives and often including mimicry.

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