Variable Wheater

Variable Wheatear  Oenanthe opistholeuca


  • Oenanthe : Greek word oinanthe – unidentified bird mentioned by Aristotle
  • Opistholeuca :  Greek word opisthe – behind,rear;  leukos- white

Vernacular Names:  Baluchistan: Monu, Pun: Dabbigalri, Guj: Kabaropiddo, Strickland-no piddo, Mar: KabraRangoja

Distribution in India:Winter visitor in North West India.

Description: Size of 15 cm; wt. of 20–25 g.  The male opistholeuca”  is small and smaller-headed, with brownish flight-feathers, slightly more white on lower back. The female is like male, but black replaced by sooty-brown, and has warm brown to chestnut ear-coverts.  The female is usually warmer brown above .The Juvenile resembles female, but with broader buff wing edges above, vague buffy scaling below.

Habitat: It is found in highly weathered low mountains, among sand deserts with grass vegetation, stony outcrops and clay canyons.  “Opistholeuca is found from lowlands to 2000m.

Food habits: It eats small insects, ants, small beetles, flies and small grasshoppers, also larger insects likemoths and also fruit of Ficus and berries of Grewia. The prey is pursued very actively on ground, in air and from low rock perch.

Breeding habits: They breed in Mar–Jun in C Asia; Jun–Jul in Afghanistan and Mar to Jul in Pakistan. At start of nest-building female brings numerous flat stones to nest-site. The nest is a bulky, flat cup of grass stems, feathers, animal hair and wool, well concealed in hole in rocks, cliff, wall or bank, under flat stone on rocky slope or in burrow. They lay a clutch of 4-7. The incubation period is 12–13 days. The nestling period is 13–14 days.