Oenanthe oenanthe


A robin-sized chat, the wheatear is a summer visitor, arriving here in early March and leaving in September for its African wintering grounds. The wheatear frequents open rocky country, pasture, moorland and heath. Mainly a ground-dwelling bird, it can be seen running or hopping along the ground. It breeds mainly in western and northern Britain.

How to identify

Unmistakeable if seen well, the wheatear can be distinguished by its characteristic tail pattern: a black 'T' on a white rump, seen when in flight. The male wheatear is a smart bird with a blue-grey back and head, black wings, a white eyestripe and a pale orange chest. Females are browner and juveniles speckled.

Where to find it

A summer visitor to the north and west of Britain, found everywhere on migration.


When to find it

  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October

How can people help

Wheatears are under threat from habitat loss and fragmentation. The Wildlife Trusts manage heathland nature reserves sympathetically for many bird species by clearing encroaching scrub and implementing beneficial grazing regimes, amongst other activities. You can help too: volunteer for The Wildlife Trusts and you could be involved in everything from traditional heathland management to raising awareness about birds.

Species information

Common name
Latin name
Oenanthe oenanthe
Thrushes, chats, flycatchers, starling, dipper and wren
Length: 15-16cm Wingspan: 29cm Weight: 24g Average Lifespan: maximum 8 years
Conservation status
Classified in the UK as an Amber List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review.