Tuesday, 3 April 2012

White crowned wheatears

I had a prolonged look at two white crowned wheatear last Thursday. One was adult and the other was immature. 

I really like this bird which can survive in drier conditions than nearly any other.
adult white crowned wheatear

Both families of white crowned wheatear which I have visited on several occasions brought up young during the winter. I wonder if this is the normal breeding pattern for this bird. I can't find any information but to me it looks like a late autumn or winter breeder. 

young white crowned wheatear

The young are now fully fledged in the one case and nearly fully fledged in the other.

Young white crowned wheatear are incredibly confiding. They will allow approach within two metres very readily.  Funnily enough another desert bird, the desert lark, will often do the same. 

rear view of young white crowned wheatear

One of the highlighted features of the birds in the Collin's guide look a little doubtful.  

It concerns the tail pattern.  The guide seems to suggest that the tail pattern is not age related. However, the young birds I have seen have all have a perpendicular black middle band which ends short of the end of the tail. In the adult birds the perpendicular band continues to the end.

side view of the same young white crowned wheatear

I look forward to watching these birds over the seasons. When I lived in Libya I had to travel for half a day to observe them. Now in Saudi Arabia, I can reach them readily.

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