[order] Passeriformes | [family] Muscicapidae | [latin] Oenanthe leucopyga | [UK] White-Tailed Wheatear | [FR] Traquet ŗ tÍte blanche | [DE] Saharasteinschmštzer | [ES] Collalba negra de Brehm | [IT] Monachella nera testabianca | [NL] Witkruintapuit

Witkruintapuit determination

copyright: E. Roualet

Rather large, oval-headed and oval-bodied, glossy black wheatear, with bold white rump and tail often showing only black central line. Somewhat less plump than Black Wheatear but with slightly longer, more pointed wings, distinctly larger than Eastern Pied Wheatear, with longer wings. Adults of both sexes have white crown. Sexes similar, no seasonal variation.

Across Afro-Arabian lower middle latitudes, Mediterranean to subtropical and tropical. A true Saharan species characteristic of desert with less than 100 mm annual precipitation. Frequents the most impoverished localities, at all altitudes up to 3000 m, especially rocky and sometimes earthen banks of wadis, but also oases.

Rare vagrant to Europe. Not globally threatened. Common in habitat areas.

Mainly insects, but diet notably diverse, including plant material and small reptiles. Catches prey in flight, on ground, or in bushes. Typically perches on low vantage points and drops down or sallies forth, up to 10 m away, to take prey from ground in manner of a shrike. At moment of capture, frequently spreads wings, sometimes repeatedly, perhaps to confuse and entrap prey.

This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 1,000,000-10,000,000 km≤. The global population size has not been quantified, but it is believed to be large as the species is described as 'common' in at least parts of its range. 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]

February-May in North-West African Sahara, March-April in Egypt and Sinai, mid february in Arabia. Nest site is built in hole in rocks, under stones, in bank, or occasionally in wall of building. Nest is cup of dry grass, lined with wool and feathers, sometimes with base of twigs or bits of wood. 3-5 eggs, incubation 14 days tended by female.

Largely sedentary throughout range, though some individuals or populations may make short-distance movements in winter: thus in some regions of Tunisia apparently recorded most frequently September-February which suggests breeding elsewhere, and at Helwan (Egypt) present only in winter. Single records in Cyprus, March, and Malta, April. Occasional records in Oman, Kuwait, and Qatar are in areas where breeding could occur and need not necessarily indicate movement within Arabian peninsula.