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The Western Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica) is a wheatear, a small migratory passerine bird that was formerly classed as a member of the thrush family Turdidae, but is now considered to be an Old World flycatcher (family Muscicapidae).
It was formerly (and still is by some authorities) considered conspecific with the eastern black-eared wheatear.
The breeding male has the forehead and crown white or nearly white, the mantle buff, and the wings blacker than those of the northern wheatear. The underparts are white tinged with buff. The back, upper tail coverts and most of the tail are white.
A black mask extends from the ear coverts to the bill. The throat can be either black or white.
In autumn and winter the head and mantle are distinctly buff, as are the underparts (including the throat in non-black-throated individuals), but the buff varies in intensity.
Except for the central pair, the tail feathers are much whiter than in the northern wheatear, the white on the inner web often extending to the tip.
Oenanthe hispanica MHNT
By Didier Descouens - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
The female is a browner bird, but has the characteristic white lower back, and her seasonal changes are less marked.
The male Western Black-eared Wheatear can be distinguished from the male eastern black-eared wheatear by its more buff-tinged upperparts, giving it a less distinctly black-and-white appearance than the latter species, as well as having the black of the mask stopping at the base of the bill rather than extending slightly above.
Black-throated individuals of this species have less black on the throat and face than on the eastern birds, and the black generally terminates less abruptly. Females of this species differ from their eastern counterparts in being warmer brown overall
Range map from www.oiseaux.net - Ornithological Portal Oiseaux.net
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Length: 16 cm
Wingspan: 25 to 27 cm
Weight: 15 to 22 g
Female / Male / Juvenile
• Female - browner bird, and her seasonal changes are less marked. Can show a dark chin and face in autumn.