©Amy Lewis


Scientific name: Oenanthe oenanthe
A summer visitor, the wheatear is a handsome chat, with black cheeks, white eyestripes, a blue back and a pale orange chest. Look for it on upland heaths and moors.

Species information


Length: 15-16cm
Wingspan: 29cm
Weight: 24g
Average lifespan: 2 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Amber under the Birds of Conservation Concern 5: the Red List for Birds (2021). Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.

When to see

March to October


A Robin-sized chat, the wheatear is a summer visitor, arriving here in early March and leaving in September for its African wintering grounds. It frequents open, rocky country, pasture, moorland and heath. Mainly a ground-dwelling bird, it can be seen running or hopping along. It breeds mainly in western and northern UK.

How to identify

The wheatear has a characteristic tail pattern: a black 'T' on a white rump, which can be seen when it is in flight. Males are smart-looking birds, with blue-grey backs and heads, black wings, black cheeks with white eyestripes, and pale orange chests. Females are browner and juveniles speckled.


A summer visitor to the north and west of the UK, but can be seen anywhere on migration.

Did you know?

The name wheatear is derived from the Old English for 'white' (wheat) and 'arse' (ear), referring to their white rump of course!

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts are working to restore and protect our heathlands by ensuring breeding birds are not disturbed, promoting good management, clearing encroaching scrub and implementing beneficial grazing regimes. This work is vital if these habitats are to survive; you can help by supporting your local Wildlife Trust and becoming a member or volunteer.