Wheatears Northern Wheatear (male) Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Aves Order: Passeriformes Family: Muscicapidae Genus: Oenanthe
The wheatears ( //) are passerine birds of the genus Oenanthe. They were formerly considered to be members of the thrush family Turdidae, but are now more commonly placed in the flycatcher family Muscicapidae. This is an Old World group, but the Northern Wheatear has established a foothold in eastern Canada and Greenland and in western Canada and Alaska.
The name "wheatear" is not derived from "wheat" or any sense of "ear", but is a 16th-century linguistic corruption of "white" and "arse", referring to the prominent white rump found in most species.
Oenanthe is also the name of a plant genus, the water dropworts, and is derived from the Greek oenos (οίνος) "wine" and anthos (ανθός) "flower". In the case of the plant genus, it refers to the wine-like scent of the flowers. In the case of the wheatear, it refers to the Northern Wheatear's return to Greece in the spring just as the grapevines blossom.
Most species have characteristic black and white or red and white markings on their rumps or their long tails. Most species are strongly sexually dimorphic; only the male has the striking plumage patterns characteristic of the genus, though the females share the white or red rump patches.
There are 22 wheatear species:
- Northern Wheatear, Oenanthe oenanthe
- Isabelline Wheatear, Oenanthe isabellina
- Desert Wheatear, Oenanthe deserti
- Black-eared Wheatear, Oenanthe hispanica
- Pied Wheatear, Oenanthe pleschanka
- Cyprus Wheatear, Oenanthe cypriaca
- Finsch's Wheatear, Oenanthe finschii
- Mourning Wheatear, Oenanthe lugens
- Arabian Wheatear, Oenanthe lugentoides
- Hooded Wheatear, Oenanthe monacha
- White-crowned Wheatear, Oenanthe leucopyga
- Black Wheatear, Oenanthe leucura
- Kurdish Wheatear, Oenanthe xanthoprymna
- Rufous-tailed Wheatear, Oenanthe chrysopygia
- Red-rumped Wheatear, Oenanthe moesta
- Hume's Wheatear, Oenanthe alboniger
- Mountain Wheatear, Oenanthe monticola
- Somali Wheatear, Oenanthe phillipsi
- Variable Wheatear, Oenanthe picata
- Capped Wheatear, Oenanthe pileata
- Red-breasted Wheatear, Oenanthe bottae
- Heuglin's Wheatear, Oenanthe heuglini
- ^ "Wheatear". Merriam Webster Online. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wheatear. Retrieved 13 May 2010.
- ^ "Dropwort, Hemlock Water". A Modern herbal. Botanical.com. http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/d/drophe21.html. Retrieved 2008-02-05.
- ^ "Northern Wheatear". eNature. http://www.enature.com/flashcard/show_flash_card.asp?recordNumber=bd0637. Retrieved 2008-02-05.
- ^ "ITIS Report: Oenanthe". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=179812. Retrieved 14 May 2010.
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