Most beautiful small birds - Sykalo Eugen 2024

Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)


  • Species name: Northern Wheatear
  • Scientific name: Oenanthe oenanthe
  • Family: Muscicapidae (Old World flycatchers)
  • Order: Passeriformes (Songbirds)
  • Subclass: Neornithes (Modern birds)
  • Class: Aves (Birds)


  • Size: Small songbird, about 14.5-16 cm (5.7-6.3 in) long with a wingspan of 26-32 cm (10-13 in).
  • Body shape: Stocky and compact, with a short neck, a long, broad tail, and a strong black beak.
  • Plumage color:

Males in breeding season: Striking black head, mask, and wings, contrasting with their white rump and tail. Back is gray or brown, underparts buff-colored.

Females and non-breeding males: Duller overall than males, with less extensive black markings and a browner back.

Long, black beak, slightly curved downwards.

Short, black legs.

Dark brown eyes.


  • Method of feeding: Primarily catches insects in mid-air, but also feeds on small invertebrates and berries. Perches on rocks or vegetation and watches for prey, then makes quick sallies to catch them.
  • Reproduction: Builds cup-shaped nests in rock crevices or under boulders. Lays 4-6 pale blue eggs with dark speckles. Both parents care for the young.
  • Movement: Migratory, breeding in northern Europe, Asia, and North America and wintering in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Communication: Loud, sharp calls for alarm and communication. Males have a simple but melodious song during breeding season.


  • Habitat: Open areas with low vegetation, such as rocky tundra, barren landscapes, and mountain slopes. Also found in coastal areas and farmland.
  • Diet: Insects, spiders, worms, snails, berries, and seeds.
  • Hunting methods: Perches and scans for prey, then dives or sallies out to catch them in mid-air. May also glean insects from leaves and rocks.

Distribution: Widespread in the northern hemisphere, breeding in Europe, Asia, and North America. Winters in sub-Saharan Africa.

Northern Wheatear

The Northern Wheatear, a feathered acrobat on a whirlwind tour across arctic tundras and sun-drenched mountains! This seemingly diminutive resident might appear like a simple rock-hopping songbird at first glance. But beneath its crisp black and white plumage and energetic chirps lies a treasure trove of surprising facts and adaptations that will transform this tireless traveler into a captivating avian acrobat, champion bug hunter, and unexpected winter warrior in your eyes.

Masters of the Mountain Ballet: Forget clumsy hops; Northern Wheatears reign supreme in the domain of rocky slopes and windswept cliffs. Their powerful legs and surprisingly broad wings propel them across treacherous terrain with breathtaking agility, leaping and fluttering between boulders like feathered parkour experts on miniature trampolines. Imagine them as mountain dancers with built-in miniature jetpacks and wind-proof tutus.

Hidden Feasting Technique: Don't underestimate their aerial hunting prowess! Northern Wheatears are expert insectivores, using their keen eyesight and rapid dives to snatch flying butterflies, beetles, and even grasshoppers mid-air. They hover, twist, and dart with lightning speed, transforming the open air into their personal buffet — talk about feathered fighter jets with built-in miniature aerial nets and extendable tongues!

Singing with Windswept Spirit: Their calls aren't just chirps and whistles. Northern Wheatears possess a rich and diverse repertoire, with clear, piercing whistles, intricate trills, and even a signature "chack-chack" alarm call that echoes across the mountains. Their voices rise above the wind like feathered troubadours, serenading the barren landscapes with their windswept spirit and boundless energy.

Unexpected Winter Warriors: They're not just fair-weather travelers. Northern Wheatears are surprisingly resilient birds, able to withstand the harshness of arctic winters. Their thick feathers, efficient metabolism, and ability to find food buried under the snow allow them to thrive where many other birds retreat. Think of them as feathered polar explorers with built-in miniature snowsuits and internal furnaces.

Champions of Deception: They're not always honest singers. Northern Wheatears have mastered the art of mimicry and trickery, attracting other birds, particularly the smaller Meadow Pipit, with deceptive calls and gestures. Once lured close, they chase them away and steal their hard-earned food, proving they're not just singers but feathered con artists with built-in miniature sirens and stage illusions.

Cultural Charmers: In many European and Asian cultures, the Northern Wheatear is associated with freedom, resilience, and the indomitable spirit of the wilderness. Its energetic displays and windswept songs inspire awe and respect, making it a treasured symbol of the region's rugged landscapes and enduring spirit.

Unexpected Regional Variations: Did you know? Not all Northern Wheatears are the same! Different populations across Europe and Asia boast subtle variations in plumage color and call patterns, adding a touch of feathered diversity to this adaptable species.