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Species Guide

Kurdish Wheatear

Oenanthe xanthoprymna

The Kurdish wheatear, also known as the Kurdistan wheatear, chestnut-rumped wheatear, or red-rumped wheatear, is a small, charismatic bird approximately 14 centimeters in length. Males boast a pale grey crown and nape, set apart by a striking white eye stripe from the black face and throat. Their back is a subdued brownish grey, while the underparts are a clean white or soft buff. The wings are a dark charcoal without any white streak, edged with brown on the flight feathers. A distinctive feature is the orange flanks and under-tail coverts, and a tail that is white at the base with a dark terminal band. Females share a similar pattern but with more muted tones, and the dark face and throat are replaced by a grey eye patch. The orange rump and tail coverts are particularly noticeable when the male takes to the air in winter.

Identification Tips

When identifying the Kurdish wheatear, look for the lack of a white wing streak and the orange coloration on the flanks and under-tail coverts. The male's black face and throat, along with the white eye stripe, are also key distinguishing features. In females, the grey eye patch and more subdued coloration can aid in identification.


The Kurdish wheatear favors heathland, open hillsides, and scrubby semi-desert regions, where it can often be spotted perched on rocks or low vegetation.


This bird's breeding range spans the Middle East, including south-east Turkey, northern Iraq, western Iran, and parts of the former USSR. In winter, it migrates to southern Iran, the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, and north-east Somalia, with occasional sightings in northwest India.


The migratory patterns of the Kurdish wheatear are not fully understood, with some populations possibly remaining at lower altitudes during winter rather than undertaking long-distance migrations.

Song & Calls

The Kurdish wheatear's call is a distinctive harsh "chack-chack-chack." Its song is reminiscent of the northern wheatear, consisting of a rather squeaky warble that can be heard during the breeding season.


Nests are artfully constructed among rocks, in crevices, scree, or beneath boulders. They are basin-shaped, lined with wool, hair, and dead grasses. The female lays four or five bluish-white eggs speckled with chestnut brown.

Diet and Feeding

Ants and other small insects comprise the primary diet of the Kurdish wheatear, which it forages for on the ground or in low vegetation.

Conservation status

The Kurdish wheatear is classified as "Least Concern" on the IUCN Red List, thanks to its very large range and stable population numbers.

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05 Apr 2017 - 9:00pm

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