Pied Wheatear

Oenanthe pleschanka Lepechin, 1771

Saxicola leucomela Pall., Saxicola morio Hempr. et Ehrb.: Reiser, 1894: 47; Saxicola pleschanka (Lepech.): Klain, 1909: 6; Oenanthe hispanica pleschanka (Lepech.): Prostov, 1964: 34.

Order Passeriformes

Family Turdidae

Conservation status: in Bulgaria: Endangered EN=C; BDA-II, III; International: BeC-III.

General distribution. A species with an unknown type of distribution and a breeding range from the Balkan peninsula (mainly Bulgaria and Romania) in the east to Central Asia and Western China [1].

Distribution and abundance in Bulgaria. A breeding summer visitor and passage migrant, in the past usually in Northeastern Bulgaria. At present it breeds along the Northern Black Sea coast (in the shore stripe, about 1 km wide, between the Golden Sands resort and Durankulak Lake, where the region of cape Kaliakra is among the sites with the highest density of breeding), less often along the Southern Black Sea coast [2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]. There are scattered isolated and irregular breeding places inland the country [9, 10, 11, 12, 13, B. Nikolov, unpubl. data]. The total numbers in the country are estimated at about 350-500 pairs. It frequently forms hybrids with the Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica [14, 15, 16, 17] in the valley of the Provadiyska River near Nevsha [18], and in the region of the Yaylata locality, cape Kaliakra, the village of Topola and the Pobitite Kamani locality [D. Georgiev, B. Ivanov, N. Petkov, S. Dereliev, G. Dandlicker unpublished data].

Habitats. Rocky terrains (often steep sea shores) close to steppe and xerophilic herbaceous associations [13].

Biology. It breeds in holes in rocks and soil batters, under stones or in the walls of buildings. It lays 4-5 eggs in May. The female incubates in the course of 13-14 days [14]. The food consists of insects.

Similar species. The Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica), Finsch's Wheatear (Oenanthe finschii).

Negative factors. Development of human settlements and tourist infrastructure along the Black Sea coast close to the breeding places. The use of chemicals in different agricultural activities; the nocturnal lighting of cape Kaliakra.

Conservation measures taken. Protected according to the Biological Diversity Act. About 50% of the population is in protected areas (the Kaliakra Nature Reserve, the protected areas Yaylata, Taukliman and Pobiti Kamani) and in sites proposed for inclusion in the Natura 2000 network of protected zones.

Conservation measures needed. Study of the distribution, the numbers, its biology and ecology aimed at specifying the threats.

References. 1. Clement, 1997; 2. Patev, 1950; 3. Alleon, 1886; 4. Reiser, 1894; 5. Mueller, 1927; 6. von Jordans, 1940; 7. Petrov, Zlatanov, 1955; 8. Mountfort, Ferguson-Lees, 1961; 9. Prostov, 1964; 10. Capek, Kloubec, 1996; 11. Ivanov, Nonev, 1997a, b; 12. Nyagolov, 2004; 13. Iankov (ed.), 2007; 14. Cramp, 1988; 15. Panov, Ivanitskiy, 1975; 16. Panov, 1986; 17. Loskot, 1986; 18. Baumgart, 1971.

Authors: Dimitar Georgiev, Boris Nikolov, Bozhidar Ivanov

Pied Wheatear (distribution map)

Pied Wheatear (drawing)