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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

15 Amaze-wing Facts About The Wheatear ​For Kids

Wheatear facts about the Eurasian and African songbird.

In the old world, there are almost are a total of 20 species of wheatear. They belong to the Muscicapidae family, and wheatears belong to the subfamily Turdinae (thrushes). Muscicapidae are the most widespread member of the wheatear genus. The list of species includes northern wheatear, western black-eared wheatear, eastern black-eared wheatear, isabelline wheatear, black wheatear, pied wheatear, hooded wheatear, Kurdish wheatear, Arabian wheatear, and Somalian wheatear among others.

All species of wheatear head north for spring and spend winters in Africa and are seen in the UK in the summer months. They are migratory birds and are capable of traversing long distances in a short period of time. If you wish to see such species the best time to visit is from March to October. All wheatears have a unique tail pattern which makes it easier to identify them. If you like this article then visit azure winged magpie and rufous owl facts too.

Wheatear Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a wheatear?

The wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) is a type of bird animal and belongs to the Animalia kingdom.

What class of animal does a wheatear belong to?

The wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) is a bird, it belongs to the Aves class of species, Turdidae family, and genus Oenanthe.

How many wheatears are there in the world?

The exact number of this species is not known however the northern wheatear populations have been evaluated at 100-10,000 breeding pairs that migrate in China and 50-10,000 individuals migrating in Russia. Their global population is estimated at 10,000,000-500,000,000.

Where does a wheatear live?

A wheatear lives on low perches, and the ground. They are seen in regions like North America, Eurasia, and Africa, Alaska, Iceland, Greenland, and northeastern Canada.

What is a wheatear's habitat?

Their natural habitats are farmland grassland, tundra grasslands, marshes, low perches, and coastal regions as well as rocky terrain. Rapid deforestation and climate change have impacted their habitats. It also impacts their movement and their diet patterns. Change in climate often puts them at threat of dying. They survive in most habitats and move from wintering climates before the season begins itself.

They migrate prior to wintering months setting in. They avoid wintering months primarily due to the fact that these birds won't be able to find appropriate food and shelter. These birds fly long distances and take ample breaks in the middle with adequate rest for eating as well as drinking water. Breeding occurs annually. Nest site is on the ground on dry tundra or usually in a hole under the ground.

Who do wheatears live with?

Wheater birds are solitary species and come together only during mating and migratory seasons. They can be seen near wildlife sanctuaries, zoo,s and conservation forests. They co-exist with other wild species in the wild.

How long does a wheatear live?

Wheatears live from one to five years. Their average lifespan is two years. This depends on various factors like their diet as well as their environment.

How do they reproduce?

This bird breeds in areas of bare rock and short grass and winters. It breeds in mainly the western and northern UK. Males arrive first to the breeding site and by mid-May the female lays from four to seven eggs. Some birds lay nests by early April. The juveniles are independent after 30 days. Throughout their life, they raise two to three broods. They lay nests on the ground or in underground holes to protect juveniles from possibles predators.

What is their conservation status?

Wheatear birds are classified as Least Concern species by the International Union For Conservation Of Nature (IUCN). Their population has not increased or decreased.

Wheatear Fun Facts

What do wheatears look like?

They have a pale gray back, black wings and tail, white rump, and pale brown underparts. Their head and cheeks too are black and they have white eyestripes. Both sexes have a white rump and tail, with a black inverted T-pattern at the back. The white rump can be seen then they are in flight. The male is blue-gray above with black wings and white below with an orange flush to the bottom and has striking plumage. The female is pale brown above and buff below. They resemble wagtails in having plied plumage and the tail-wagging habit.

Males and females wheatears are differently colored.

How cute are they?

They are extremely cute and small little creatures. They are harmless unless their territory is meddled with.

How do they communicate?

They communicate primarily via songs and calls. The male has a whistling crackly song which is a typical chack noise. Males use their song to defend their territory and also attract possible mates to the breeding site or nest site. They also communicate via calls and make use of auditory, visual, acoustic, and other forms of communication.

How big is a wheatear?

Wheatears are small birds that are 24-36 in (15-16 cm) in length which is 20 times bigger than the smallest bird in the world the bee hummingbird which is (2.4 in) 5-6.1 cm.

How fast can a wheatear fly?

Wheatear birds can fly long distances even though they are small birds and are known to sing and perform song flights as well.

How much does a wheatear weigh?

A wheatear weighs 0.037-0.066 lb (17-30 g) which depends on various factors like their diet and environment. Wheatear birds stay away from wintering regions to keep themselves safe and only reach colder regions for breeding.

What are their male and female names of the species?

The male and female of the species are not addressed differently however, there are physical differences between the males and females. The male is blue-gray above with black wings and white below with an orange flush to the bottom and has striking plumage. The female is pale brown above and buff below.

What would you call a baby wheatear?

A baby wheatear is referred to as a nestling or even a juvenile until they develop feathers and are ready to fly and hunt for themselves. In the initial few weeks of their life, the baby wheatear is completely dependant on the parents for all needs.

What do they eat?

Their primary diet consists of insects including larvae, moths, spider ants, and even beetles. They also consume berries in the wild. They prefer eating insects in most instances. Wheatears are prey to rats as well as weasels and snakes in certain instances, since they are seen on the ground and fall easy prey to attack.

Are they dangerous?

They are not dangerous as long as they are left to themselves and their instant response to danger is their flight instinct. They can be seen anywhere in migration. The northern wheatear is the most common of the species.

Would they make a good pet?

The wheatear belonging to the genus Oenanthe are innately wild birds and best thrive in their natural habitat which is in the wild. Keeping them captured will lead to health complications in later years as well as shortening of their lifespan. They are relatively loud birds hence you could identify them with their audio as well.

Did you know...

For the first time in India, a wheatear bird was spotted between 20 October 2018 and 26 December 2018. The species was spotted by a person named Antar Singh in Rajasthan. These species have been spotted previously in Afganistan as well as in Pakistan but were never spotted in India until 2018. This was one such rare moment.

Males of the species are more distinct and brightly colored as compared to females who are colorful but have darker colors on their bodies. This is similar to the case of peacocks where the males are more attractive to look at as compared to the females. Males birds are usually brightly colored to attract possible mates.

Where do wheatears go in winter?

All species of wheatear head north for spring and spend winters in Africa and are seen in the UK in the summer months. They migrate prior to wintering months setting in. They avoid wintering months primarily due to the fact that these birds won't be able to find appropriate food and shelter. These birds fly long distances and take ample breaks in the middle with adequate rest for eating as well as drinking water.

What does wheatear mean?

The wheatear is white in color with black and gray spots as well as some tinges of brown. Their name has its roots in the old English for white (wheat) and rump (ear) which refers to the white coloring of their rump. Initially, they were classified as old-world flycatchers but later this was changed. Northern wheatears are the most common of the species.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our sociable weaver fun facts for kids and Eurasian collared dove facts.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable wheatear coloring pages.

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