Isabelline Wheatear/Oenanthe isabellina

Isabelline Wheatear/Oenanthe isabellina - Photographer: Frank Schulkes
Isabelline Wheatear/Oenanthe isabellina - Photographer: Plamen Dimitrov
Isabelline Wheatear/Oenanthe isabellina - Photographer: Frank Schulkes
Isabelline Wheatear/Oenanthe isabellina - Photographer: Frank Schulkes

L 15-16½ cm. Breeds on short-grass plains or slopes in warm, dry climates, e.g. at border between natural steppe and semi-desert, often with scattered boulders. Migratory. Nest usually in ground hole (e.g. rodent burrow).
IDENTIFICATION: Like autumn-plumaged Wheatear, but differs in: somewhat bigger size, longer tarsi and more upright posture; broader black terminal tail-band (intermediate between Wheatear and Desert Wheatear); paler wings with broader buff fringes, so wing-coverts appear closer in tone to upperparts than to dark brown primaries, and in flight against dark background wing looks paler; supercilium whitest before eye, buff and narrower behind (whitest and broadest behind eye on Wheatear). Sexes similar, but male has on average blacker lores.
VOICE: Call a fairly sharp ‘chip’, sometimes with hint of downslur, ‘chiü’; also a stifled clicking ‘chack’. Song distinctive, drawn out (verses often 10- 15 sec., pauses brief), ‘chatty’, and including diagnostic ‘Harpo Marx whistles’ (fast, short wolf-whistles), ‘vi-vi-vi-vü-vü-vü-vuy-vuy...’, hard, crunchy sounds and also more or less good imitations.

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