Variable Wheatear

Variable Wheatear Oenanthe picata has been reported in China only in Kashgar Prefecture, Xinjiang. Male of morph “capistrata” distinguished from Pied Wheatear O. pleschanka by broad and even black terminal band on tail and white edges to outer tail feathers (terminal band on tail of Pied is narrower and more ragged, and edges to outer rectrices are black). Pied furthermore has more white on nape (extending to mantle; white on “capistrata” ends on nape) and less black on throat (not extending to upper breast, as in “capistrata”). Other morphs may show nearly all black plumage or black plumage on head and upperparts and white underparts. Females separable from Pied by tail pattern. — Craig Brelsford

THE WHEATEARS OF CHINA has research on all five species of wheatear in China. Click any link below:

Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe
Isabelline Wheatear O. isabellina
Desert Wheatear O. deserti
Pied Wheatear O. pleschanka
Variable Wheatear O. picata


Daniel Bengtsson served as chief ornithological consultant for Craig Brelsford’s Photographic Field Guide to the Birds of China, from which this species description is drawn.

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