Desert wheatear (Oenanthe deserti)

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The desert wheatear (Oenanthe deserti) is a wheatear, a small passerine bird that was formerly classed as a member of the thrush family Turdidae, but is now more generally considered to be an Old World flycatcher (Muscicapidae).

The plumage of the upper parts of the male in summer is buff. The underparts are white with a buff tinge on the breast. The black on the face and throat extends to the shoulders, and there is distinct white superciliary stripe. The female is greyer above and buffer below and has no black on the throat, and in the winter plumage the black on the throat of the male is partially obscured by the white tips of the feathers. A distinguishing characteristic, in both sexes of all ages, is that the entire tail is black to the level of the upper tail-coverts.

The desert wheatear feeds largely on insects which it picks up off the ground. It breeds in the spring when a clutch of usually four pale blue, slightly speckled eggs is laid in a well-concealed nest made of grasses, mosses and stems.

The desert wheatear has a very large range breeding range, estimated as nearly 10 million square kilometers (3.9 million square miles), and the population appears to be stable. For this reason, the bird is listed as being of least concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

The first record in Romania in december 2017.

photo: Mihai BACIU


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