Bird Species of the World's Boreal Forests


Oenanthe oenanthe
Northern Wheatear


Distinguishing Features - Sparrow-sized ground bird; length, average15 cm; rump and sides of the tail, white; black on tail forms a broad inverted "T". Breeding male has a blue-gray back, black wings, and a black ear patch. Female and autumn male are buffier, with a brown back.

Northern Wheatear Habitat

Breeds in Alaska and parts of northern Canada; Eurasia. Birds from eastern Canada migrate east through Greenland and Europe, to winter in Africa. Birds from Alaska and northwestern Canada cross Bering Strait and make long westward flight across Asia, also going to wintering grounds mostly in Africa. In summer, rocky tundra, barren slopes; breeds on dry northern tundra with many exposed rocks and boulders, where these are near mats of dwarf shrubs a few inches high.


Mostly insects, some berries; also centipedes, snails.


Forages mostly on the ground, running short distances and then stopping to pick up items. May run and flutter in pursuit of active insects. Also often watches from a low perch, then flies down take item on ground. Sometimes flies out to catch insects in midair.

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