[order] Passeriformes | [family] Muscicapidae | [latin] Oenanthe pleschanka | [UK] Pied Wheatear | [FR] Traquet pie | [DE] Nonnensteinschmätzer | [ES] Collalba pía | [IT] Monachella dorsonero | [NL] Bonte Tapuit

Bonte Tapuit determination

copyright: J. del Hoyo

Pied Wheaear of distinctly lighter build than Northern Wheeatear with slightly shorter bill and wings and 15% shorter legs, but with tail longer and proportionately appearing more so. In spring, crown and wide nape white, with faint silver or buff tone most obvious from behind and becoming grey with wear. Face, chin, throat, upper breast, sides of neck, shoulder area, back, and wings black. Lower breast, underbody, rump, and upper tail-coverts white, variably tinged buff. Axillaries and under wing-coverts black, contrasting with dusky undersurface to flight-feathers. Tail with black central feathers and black tips to outer ones, tips noticeably longer and extending further up tail towards outermost. Sexes markedly dissimilar in breeding plumage.

Approximately replaces Black-eared Wheatear in continental mid latitudes of eastern sector of west Palearctic, through warmer temperate and steppe zones, largely in lowland but ranging up to 1800 m. Typically occupies desolate stony stretches with scattered boulders and more seldom fallow fields at margin of small cultivated areas.

Oenanthe pleschanka is a widespread summer visitor to much of south-eastern Europe, which accounts for less than a quarter of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is relatively small (<140,000 pairs), but was stable between 1970- 1990. The species remained stable overall during 1990-2000, with all populations across its European range either stable or increasing.

Almost entirely insects. Taken mostly from bare ground but occasionally from low vegetation. Typically watches for prey from perch up to 1.5 m high and flies down to make capture, returning to same perch immediately, rarely spending time on ground.

This species has a large global range; the total size has not yet been quantified, but the Extent of Occurrence in Africa alone is estimated to be 4,400,000 km². It has a large global population, including an estimated 64,000-270,000 individuals in Europe (BirdLife International in prep.). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern [conservation status from birdlife.org]

Early May in Ukraine, May-June in extralimital former USSR. Nest site is a in hole in rock or bank, under stone, or sometimes in building. Nest is a cup of dry grass and stems, lined with finer grasses, roots, and wool or hair. 4-6 eggs, incubation 13-14 days tended by female only.

Migratory; winters in eastern Africa (Sudan to Somalia south to north-east Tanzania) and south-west Arabia (Yemen). Moves to south and south-west on broad front via Turkey, Middle East, and Pakistan; leaves breeding grounds August-October, returning mid-March to early May (from early April in Rumania); recorded in Eritrea from early September to early May, in Kenya mid-October to early April.