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

Figures from this Account

Distribution of the Northern Wheatear
Figure 1. Annual cycle of the Northern Wheatear migration, breeding and molt.

Annual cycle of the Northern Wheatear migration and breeding in North America, and molt in breeding and wintering grounds. Thick lines show peak activity; thin lines, off-peak.

Figure 2. Primary and rectrix molt scores of adult leucorhoa at late nests in Iqaluit, Baffin Island, Canada.

Primary and rectrix molt scores (Ginn and Melville 1983) of adult leucorhoa at late nests in Iqaluit, Baffin Island, Canada (DJTH). Lines join data for the same individual; those measured on 10 and 13 August were attending known second broods (Hussell et al. 2014). (Records archived at Birds Canada, Port Rowan, Ontario.)

Figure 3. Breeding Range of Northern Wheatear in North America.
Figure 4. Nonbreeding of the Northern Wheatear in Africa is denser in the darker than in the lighter blue areas. Orange patches indicate the exclusively African breeding range of the formerly conspecific O. seebohmi.

Sources include Clement and Rose (2016), eBird (2020), Keith et al. (1992), and Shirihai and Svensson (2018).

Figure 5. Schematic migration routes of Northern Wheatear, Oenanthe oenanthe.

Subspecies oenanthe (blue arrows) follow similar routes in both seasons. Transatlantic flights of leucorhoa loop farther north in spring (green arrows) than in fall (orange).

Figure 6. Mean mass of nestling Northern Wheatear in two subspecies.

Red dots = leucorhoa on Baffin Isl., Canada (DJTH; n above upper SD; data from 26 individuals in 5 broods). Lines indicate growth of oenanthe in England (n >100, Conder 1989), Sweden (32 broods, Moreno 1987 [Ornis Scandinavica 18:302–309]) and the Netherlands (n = 322 nestlings, van Oosten 2016).

Figure 7. Length of primary 7 in known-age Northern Wheatear nestlings on Baffin Island, Canada.

n = 24 young in 4 broods; DJTH.

Figure 8. Mean hourly temperatures near two Northern Wheatear nests in Iqaluit, Baffin Island, Canada.

Mean hourly temperatures (EDST) near two Northern Wheatear nests in Iqaluit, Baffin Island, Canada (DJTH unpublished data). Short blue arrows indicate approximate mean time of sunrise and sunset during July; long red arrows are approximate average start and end times of nocturnal rest periods (see Breeding: Parental Care). Temperatures were recorded every 10 min by iButtons (https://www.ibuttonlink.com/). At each site, three devices were laid on the ground: one on bare ground, one under a grassy tuft and one under bell heather (all vegetation <10 cm tall). A fourth device was placed in a bottomless cardboard milk carton that provided shade and protection from wind, attached to a post at about chest height to measure air temperature. There was considerable daily variation; air temperature at 1400 (warmest part of day) ranged from 5-19 °C, while temperature on sun-lit ground could rise as high as 40°C. (Records archived by Birds Canada, Port Rowan, Ontario.)

Figure 9. Mean hourly visits by Northern Wheatear parents to nests with known-age young, Iqaluit, Baffin Island, Canada.

(Continuous filming at 4 nests for 393 h from 0600–2100). Food was delivered at essentially every visit, though occasionally birds re-entered immediately after removal of a fecal sac to collect another. (DJTH; records archived at Birds Canada, Port Rowan, Ontario.)

Figure 10. Hourly visits to nests during continuous camera coverage at four nests in Iqaluit, Baffin Island, Canada (DJTH; excludes hours with incomplete recording).

Blue lines and circles = females, red lines and squares = males, green lines and triangles = unbanded males; gray triangles = birds unsexed due to poor light conditions. Title for each panel shows number of 24 h periods when all young were still in the nest (‘pre-fledge’) or after some young had left and were being fed beyond camera view (‘fledging’). Hours are Eastern Daylight Savings Times—about 34 min earlier than solar time. (Records archived at Birds Canada, Port Rowan, Ontario.)

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