Black wheatear

Black wheatear
Oenanthe leucura

Photo by Marco Valentini (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
black wheatear (en); chasco-preto (pt); traquet rieur (fr); collalba negra (es); trauersteinschmätzer (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Muscicapidae

This species is found in south-western Europe, in Spain, and marginally into Portugal and France. Also in north-west Africa, in Morocco, northern Algeria, Tunisia, Western Sahara and northern Mauritania.

These birds are 16-19 cm long and have a wingspan of 26-29 cm. They weigh 37-44 g.

The black wheatear is found in arid, stony areas, such as mountains, cliffs and gorges, and also in coastal cliffs, rocky offshore islands, dry scrublands and dry woodlands. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 3.000 m.

These birds feed primarily on insects, such as beetles, butterflies, grasshoppers and flies, which they catch either on the ground or by flying from a perch. They also take spiders, small reptiles and berries.

Black wheatears breed in March-June. The nest is a cup of dry grasses and rootlets, lined with feathers and wool. They often add a platform of small stones around the nest, which is placed in a rock crevice, cliff, cave or man-made wall. The female lays 3-6 pale blue eggs with some reddish speckles, which she incubates alone for 14-18 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 14-15 days after hatching. Each pair may raise up to 3 broods per year.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 25.000-192.000 individuals. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

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