SPECIES

Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe Scientific name definitions

Erica H. Dunn, David J. T. Hussell, Josef Kren, and Amelia C. Zoerb
Version: 2.1 — Published October 25, 2022

Tables and Appendices

Table 1

Egg Measurements: mean ± SD (range, n), (source). Unless noted otherwise, n = number of eggs measured.

  O. o. oenanthe O. o. leucorhoa
Length (mm) 21.0 ± 1.0 (18.7–24.0, 264) (a) 21.8 (34) (f)
  21.3 (19.0-24.8, 100) (b)  
  20.9 ± 1.1 (33 clutch means) (c)  
  20.6 (200) (d)   
Width (mm) 15.8 ± 0.4 (14.9–16.8, 264) 16.0 (34) (f)
  15.9 (14.6-17.0, 100) (b)  
  15.5 ± 0.5 (33 clutch means) (c)  
  15.5 (200) (d)  
Volume (ml) 2.6 (33 clutch means) (c)  
Mass (mm) 2.83 ± 0.2 (2.3-3.2, 92) (a)  
  2.8 (33 clutch means) (c)  
  2.61 (e)  

Sources:

  • a Skokholm, UK; (Conder 1989)
  • b UK eggs; (Witherby et al. 1938)
  • c Sweden; (Moreno 1989b)
  • d across entire territory of former USSR; (Panov 2005)
  • e Alps; (Wartmann 1985)
  • f Greenland; (Witherby et al. 1938)

Table 2

Clutch sizes in O. o. oenanthe (mean ± SD), arranged roughly by latitude. (Where mean clutches were for an entire region, latitude was estimated as the approximate center of the region.)

Location Mean Clutch n Source
Kazakhstan 4.96 25 (Panov 2005)
Tien Shan, Kyrgyzstan 5 19 (Panov 2005)
Switzerland (alpine) 3.6 173 C. Meier personal communication
Switzerland (alpine) 5.4   (Wartmann 1985), in (Moreno 1989)
Rhinehessen, Germany 4.67 ± 1.0  625 (Buchmann 2001)
Skokholm, UK 5.5 ± 0.9  227 (Conder 1989)
Shropshire, UK 5.42 297 (Fulton 2010)
Breckland, UK 5.7 ± 0.1 52 (Tye 1980)
Transbaikalia, Russia 5.75 53 (Panov 2005)
Netherlands 5.2 ± 1.0 147 (van Oosten 2016)
Öland, Sweden 6.2 ± 0.7 79 (Moreno 1989b)
Uppland, Sweden 5.9 37 (Cramp 1988)
Finland 6.1 48 (vonHaartman 1969)
Alaska, USA 6.9 ± 1.2  9 (Kessel 1989)
Yamal Peninsula, Russia 5.68 ± 0.12 31 (Ryzhanovskii et al. 2019)

Table 3

Age distribution of known-age Northern Wheatears returning to study site in south central Sweden, 1993-2018 (D. Arlt pers. comm.)

Age (yrs) at last detection

Female (%, n)

Male (%, n)

1

59 (359)

52 (402)

2

22 (137)

26 (203)

3

10 (62)

11 (85)

4

4 (27)

5 (40)

5

2 (13)

2 (19)

6-10

2 (11)

3 (20)

Appendix 1

Measurements

Sex Age (yr) O. o. leucorhoa  O. o. oenanthe  O. o. libanotica 
  Wing chord - natural (New World method; Ralph et al. 1993)
Male 2+  101.4 ± 1.94 (97.0–105.0, 39) (Canada-1)    
  1+  101.2 ± 1.96 (97.0–106.0, 91) (Canada-1)    
  < 1  101.1 ± 2.02 (98.0–106.0, 49) (Canada-1)    
Female 1+  97.5 ± 1.89 (92.0–102.0, 122) (Canada-1)    
Unspecified < 1 101.7 ± 2.40 (96.0–108.0, 84) (Canada-1)    
  Wing chord - straightened and flattened (Old World method; Svensson 1992)
Male 2+  102.9 ± 1.86 (99.0–107.0, 39) (Canada-1) 98.5 ± 1.8 (93–103, 237) (Sweden-7)  
  1+ 102.8 ± 2.03 (99.0–108.0, 90) (Canada-1) 97.1 ± 1.9 (92–102, 356) (Sweden-7)   
      95.8 (91–102, 94) (Germany-2)  
      100.9 ± 1.84 (95.5–106, 69) (Alaska-5)   
  < 1  102.8± 2.11 (99.0–108.0, 49) (Canada-1) 96.7 ± 2.18 (93–101, 41) (w Europe-2)  
  Unspecified 102.5 ± 0.48 (24) (Unspecified-6) 96.2 ± 0.26 (106) (Unspecified-6) 94.2 ± 0.29 (94) (Unspecified-6)
    102.6 ± 1.66 (99–107, 49) (Iceland-2)   94.6 (90–105, 229) (Various-2)
    103.5 (29) (Iceland-3)   97.7 (93–102, 26) (Unspecified-8)
    105.1 (101–110, 54) (Greenland-2)    
Female 2+   95.1 ± 2.1 (90–101, 292) (Sweden-7)  
  1+ 99.2 ± 2.07 (93.0–105.0, 122) (Canada-1) 94.3 ± 1.9 (89–101, 294) (Sweden-7)  
    99.0 ± 1.80 (96–103, 23) (Iceland-2)  92.1 (87–96, 97) (Germany-2)  
    100.0 (26) (Iceland- 3)  97.9 ± 2.01 (94–105, 73) (Alaska-5)  
  < 1   94.0 ± 2.13 (89–97, 26) (w Europe-2)  
  Unspecified 102.9 (99–108, 53) (Greenland-2)   93.0 (88–93, 73) (Various-2)
        94.0 (90–99,13) Unspecified-8)
Unspecified < 1 103.3 ± 2.47 (97.0–110.0, 84) (Canada-1)  100.8 ± 2.32 (93.7–107.5, 105) (Alaska-5)  
  First secondary to wingtip
Male Unspecified 33.7 ± 0.26 (24) (Unspecified-6) 31.0 ± 0.18 (106) (Unspecified-6) 28.8 ± 0.l7 (94) (Unspecified-6)
Unspecified < 1 34.80 ± 1.35 (32.6–37.0, 15) (Canada-1)    
  Tail length
Male 2+  58.4 ± 1.72 (55.0–62.0, 26) (Canada-1) 54.5 ± 1.63 (52–57, 20) (w Europe-2)  
      55.9 ± 2.0 (44–61, 228) (Sweden-7)  
  1+ 57.3 ± 2.05 (53.0–62.0, 66) (Canada-1) 54.2 ± 1.8 (49–61, 342) (Sweden-7)  
      54.1 ± 2.12 (49–60, 65) (Alaska-5)  
  < 1  56.6 ± 1.91 (53.0–61.0, 39) (Canada-1) 52.8 ± 1.73 (49–56, 41) (w Europe-2)  
  Unspecified 56.9 ± 1.75 (54–60, 23) (Greenland-2)    56.2 ± 0.22 (94) (Unspecified-6) 
    58.3 ± 0.51 (24) (Unspecified-6)  55.7 ± 0.23 (106) (Unspecified-6)  56.8 (52–60, 26) (Unspecified-8)
Female 2+ 57.0 ± 1.41 (56.0–58.0, 2) (Canada-1) 51.5 ± 2.09 (49–54, 8) (w Europe-2)   
      53.3 ± 2.1 (42–58, 278) (Sweden-7)  
  1+ 54.4 ± 3.29 (28.0–60.0, 101) (Canada-1) 52.2 ± 1.8 (48–58, 280) (Sweden-7)  
      51.7 ± 1.89 (47–56.5, 71) (Alaska-5)  
  < 1   51.4 ± 1.42 (48–53, 23) (w Europe-2)  
  Unspecified 55.3 ± 1.48 (53–58, 16) (Greenland-2)    53.8 (50–58, 13) (Unspecified-8)
Unspecified < 1 58.0 ± 2.11 (51.0–62.0, 80) (Canada-1)  53.5 ± 2.05 (48–57.5, 105) (Alaska-5)  
  Tarsus length
Male 1+ 29.1 ± 0.79 (27.3–30.8, 66) (Canada-1)  27.5 ± 0.78 (26.1–29.9, 74) (Alaska-5)  
      27.2 ± 0.97 (25.5–28.9, 60) (w Europe-2)  
  Unspecified 29.1 ± 0.73 (28.3–30.7, 23) (Greenland-2)    27.1 (25–29, 25) (Unspecified-8)
Female 1+ 28.2 ± 0.77 (26.6–30.1, 100) (Canada-1) 26.7 ± 0.97 (25.4–28.2, 31) (w Europe-2)  
      27.0 ± 0.73 (25.6–28.4, 78) (Alaska-5)  
  Unspecified 28.5 ± 0.95 (27.4–30.2, 16) (Greenland-2)  29.5 ± 0.7 (28.4–30.4, 16) (Sweden-7) 25.9 (25–27, 13) (Unspecified-8)
Unspecified < 1 28.7 ± 0.74 (27.2–30.7, 79) (Canada-1)  27.0 ± 0.74 (25.3–28.3, 105) (Alaska-5)  
  Bill length: tip to skull
Male 2+   18.2 ± 0.8 (16.2–21.2, 193) (Sweden-7)  
  1+ 18.1 ± 0.68 ( 17.2–19.2, 27) ( Greenland-2) 18.2 ± 0.8 (15.9–21.5, 279) (Sweden-7)  
      19.0 ± 0.90 (16.8–21.0, 75) (Alaska-5)  
  Unspecified   18.3 (16.8–20.6, 20) (Unspecified-2) 18.6 (17–20, 26) (Unspecified-8)
         
Female 2+   17.9 ± 0.8 (15.0–20.0, 210) (Sweden-7)  
  1+ 18.0 ± 0.62 (17.2–19.0, 16) (Greenland-2)  18.0 ± 0.8 (15.9–20.5, 224) (Sweden-7)  
      18.5 ± 0.79 (16.2–20.5, 79) (Alaska-5)  
  Unspecified   18.2 (17.7–19.2, 9) (Unspecified-2) 17.5 (15–19, 13) (Unspecified-8)
         
Unspecified < 1   18.3 ± 0.74 (16.7–20.1, 105) (Alaska-5)  
  Bill length: tip of bill to feathers
Male 1+ 13.0 ± 0.74 (10.2–14.4, 67) (Canada-1)     
Female 1+ 12.9 ± 0.62 (10.7–14.8, 100) (Canada-1)    
Unspecified < 1 11.9 ± 0.64 (10.0–13.1, 78) (Canada-1)     
  Bill length: tip of bill to nares
Male 2+   9.9 ± 0.5 (8.7–11.1, 201) (Sweden-7)  
  1+ 10.0 ± 0.75 (8.8–11.9, 15) (Canada-1)   9.9 ± 0.6 (8.2–12.2, 290) (Sweden-7)  
  Unspecified 9.9 ± 0.56 (9 –10.8, 21) (Greenland- 2)    
Female 2+   9.9 ± 0.5 (8.3–11.6, 220) (Sweden-7)  
  1+ 9.8 ± 0.69 (8.9–12.1, 18) (Canada-1)   9.8 ± 0.6 (8.4–12.6, 232) (Sweden-7)  
  Unspecified 9.7 ± 0.45 (8.9 –10.3, 15) (Greenland-2)    
Unspecified < 1 9.4 ± 0.78 (6.2–10.2, 49) (Canada-1)      
  Tip of bill to back of skull
Male 1+ 39.2 ± 0.81 (36.9–41.1, 61) (Canada-1)      
Female 1+ 38.6 ± 0.75 (35.7–40.2, 94) (Canada-1)      
Unspecified < 1 38.4 ± 0.82 (36.2–40.0, 78) (Canada-1)      
  Skull width
Male 1+ 18.2 ± 1.43 (15.9–20.2, 17) (Canada-1)      
Female 1+ 17.8 ± 1.09 (16.0–19.8, 17) (Canada-1)      
Unspecified < 1 18.1 ± 0.60 (16.5–19.3, 55) (Canada-1)      
  Wing pointednessa
Male Unspecified I5 = 0.902 (31) (Helgoland-4)   I5 = 0.911 (93) (Helgoland-4)    
Female Unspecified I5 = 0.906 (65) (Helgoland-4) I5 = 0.912 (85) (Helgoland-4)  
  Wing-shape Indexb
Male Unspecified 0.29 ± 0.003 (24) (Unspecified-6) 0.27 ± 0.002 (106) (Unspecified-6) 0.25 ± 0.002 (94) (Unspecified-6)
  Massc
Male 2+   23.2 ± 1.2 (20.4–28.6, 222) (Sweden-7)  
  1+ 28.5 ± 1.61 (23.8–32.2, 88)  (Canada-1)  22.8 ± 1.2 (20.0–25.5, 332) (Sweden-7) 24.1 ± 2.14 (20–29, 41) (Various-9)
      24.1 ± 2.38 (45) (United Kingdom-2)  
      24.4 ± 3.9 (21.5–33.1, 76) (Alaska-5)  
Female 2+   23.0 ± 1.5 (19.5–29.9, 262) (Sweden-7)  
      22.7 ± 1.5 (19.3–28.7, 286) (Sweden-7)  
  1+ 28.3 ± 2.11 (23.6–35.3, 120) (Canada-1)   24.3 ± 4.0 (22.1–33.1, 79) (Alaska-5) 24.4 ± 2.80 (19–27, 10) (Various-9)
      23.8 ± 2.08 (35) (United Kingdom-2)  
Unspecified < 1 30.5 ± 2.18 (26.9–37.6, 83) (Canada-1)      

  • a Indices of Hedenström and Pettersson 1986.
  • b Modified Holinski index (Lockwood et al. 1998).
  • c Mass of 1+ year old birds are from the breeding season. See 'Migration and Movements' and Cramp 1988 for variation in mass of migrants.

Sources:

  • 1 = DJTH. Birds < 1 year old are fall migrants; all others breeding<
  • 2 = Cramp 1988. Iceland figure for breeders; Greenland samples may include Canadian migrants. Figures for libanotica are means calculated from Cramp's data from 9 sites across the range
  • 3 = Delingat et al. 2011; breeding birds
  • 4 = Dierschke et al. 2005
  • 5 = H. Schmaljohann personal communication. Birds < 1 year old are fall migrants; all others breeding (Eagle Pass, AK)
  • 6 = Förschler and Bairlein 2011. Means shown with Standard Error
  • 7 = D. Arlt personal communication. Breeding birds (Uppsala, Sweden)
  • 8 = Keith et al. 1992

Appendix 2

Evidence of polygyny in Oenanthe oenanthe leucorhoa. For each case, date of first observation is the date the nest was discovered. Unpublished data from Iqaluit, Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada (DJTH). All records archived at Birds Canada, Port Rowan, Ontario.

Case 1 (2009): nests 541 m apart.

Date (2009) Nest #3. Estimated date of first egg: June 10-14  Nest #7. Estimated date of first egg: 23 June
       Male: ASY, band #2291-00207,  color bands RA/BO      Male: ASY, band #2291-00207, color bands RA/BO
       Female:  AHY, band #2291-00208, color bands GA/GR     Female: AHY, band #2291-00229, color bands GA/BR
2 July Male and female both delivering food  
3 July Male and female both seen nearby  
6 July Male and female captured and banded  
8 July 6 young banded. Female feeding; male nearby but no feeds  
10 July   Female delivering food. Banded male (no ID possible) brought food but did not enter
12 July Female visiting  Male seen at nest; identified as RA/BO
13 July Female visiting. Droppings at nest entrance Female trapped and banded
15 July 5 yg fledged; being fed by both banded parents  
16 & 20 July   Male RA/BO confirmed visiting
24 July 2 banded young seen ca. 800 m away were likely from this nest  Many female visits and a few by male
26 July   Young come out of nest for short periods
31 July Female GA/GR near nest site (no tail; molting)  

Case 2 (2011): nests 480 m apart.

Date (2011) Nest #12. Estimated date of first egg: June 22 Nest #28. No estimate for date of first egg
       Male: ASY band #2541-92248, color bands A/GnO      Male: ASY band #2541-92248, color bands A/GnO
       Female: AHY band #2541-92248, color bands  A/GnBk      Female: AHY band #2541-92219, color bands  A/GnBu
29 June Unbanded female entered; no food. Probably incubating  
7 July No activity during brief check Unbanded male & female delivering food
8 July   Male and female trapped and banded
9 July     Both adults present
10 July Estimated date of 1st hatch. Female brooding. Male A/GnO came with food  
13 July Unbanded female visiting regularly. In 1.25 hrs observation, male A/GnO brought food at 1012, 1037, 1106 & 1120. Female then trapped and banded; young weighed Female seen with food, near 4 fledglings ca 50 m from nest.  Male A/GnO seen here at approx. 1015, 1025 & 1035
15 July Nest dug out, probably by fox. 1 dead yg remaining. Female  A/GnBk spotted briefly No activity at nest site
     
16 & 18 July   Female A/GnBu seen c. 1 km from nest site with at least 2 fledglings

Case 3 (2011): nests 435 m apart.

Date (2011) Nest #34. Estimated date of first egg: June 16 Nest #43. Estimated date of first egg: June 19
       Male: SY, band #2541-92225, color bands A/GnGn      Male: SY, band #2541-92225, color bands A/GnGn
       Female: AHY, band #2541-92227, color bands  A/GnW      Female: AHY, band #2541-92251, color bands A/BuR
9 July Unbanded male & female delivering food  
10 July Both adults captured and banded. 4 of 9 young banded (estimated hatch date 4 July)  
     
13 July All young found dead. No evidence of predation  
15 July   Unbanded female delivering food. Male A/GnGn giving alarm calls
16 July   Unbanded female and male A/GnGn both making frequent food deliveries
18, 19, 20 & 22 July   Unbanded female and A/GnGn both delivering food. On 22 July, droppings seen near nest entrance, but not outside
26 July   Both adults present. Two young came outside and moved to nearby crevice. Adult behavior suggests other young out of nest.  Female finally captured and banded.

Recommended Citation

Dunn, E. H., D. J. T. Hussell, J. Kren, and A. C. Zoerb (2022). Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe), version 2.1. In Birds of the World (P. G. Rodewald and B. K. Keeney, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.norwhe.02.1