Heuglin's Wheatear

Heuglin's Wheatear (Oenanthe heuglini) is a small passerine bird in the wheatear genus Oenanthe. It occurs in a band across Africa to the south of the Sahara. It was formerly classified as a subspecies of Red-breasted Wheatear (O. bottae) of the Ethiopian Highlands and Arabia but is now usually regarded as a separate species. Its name honours the German explorer and ornithologist Theodor von Heuglin.

It is 13-14 centimetres long. The adult has dark grey-brown upperparts, a black mask and a white stripe above the eye. The breast is orange-buff shading into the paler throat and belly. The tail is black apart from white sides to the basal half. The uppertail-coverts and undertail-coverts are white and the underwing-coverts are buff-pink. The song is long and complex and the call is a harsh chack.

Botta's Wheatear has a paler throat and more reddish breast with greater contrast between them than in Heuglin's Wheatear. It is also larger and has paler, greyer upperparts and cream underwing-coverts.

Heuglin's Wheatear inhabits the Sahel region from Mauritania eastwards through Mali, Niger, Chad and Sudan to Eritrea. It extends south as far as northern parts of Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Uganda and north-west Kenya. It is found in open country with rocks and short grass and is often seen on burnt ground. Some birds are resident but others make migratory movements.

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