Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe

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Identification

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Small thrush-like bird with distinctive black-and-white tail pattern best seen in flight. Throughout most of range, breeding male is overall pale with gray back and buffy throat, black mask, and black wings. Breeding female is duller without black mask. Nonbreeding and immature birds are bright buffy overall with subtle pale eyebrow and lack contrasting black wings. “Black-throated Wheatear” of Atlas Mountains shows an extensive black mask and throat in the male, and limited to no warm coloration; may represent separate species. Note long legs and upright posture. Tends to stay on the ground or on low perches. Primarily Eurasian species with a limited breeding range in Alaska; breeds in areas of bare rock and short grass and spends the non-breeding season in open habitats such as grasslands and barren rocky plains. Jumbled-sounding song is quite variable, often including whistles, trills, and mimicry. Calls include a high-pitched “weet”, dry rattle, and dry “chak”, often repeated.

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