The wheatears are 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.
Oenanthe is also the name of a plant genus, the water dropworts, and is derived from the Greek ainos "wine" and anthos "flower", from the wine-like scent of the flowers. In the case of the wheatear, it references the fact that the type species, the Northern Wheatear, returns to Greece in the spring just as the grapevines blossom.
Wheatears are typically larger than the European Robin. 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.
The wheatear species are:
Arduous journeys: researchers assess the balance between instinct and adaptability that makes long-distance migrations doable.(NEWS)
Aug 11, 2006; It may be just a small songbird with gray feathers and an eye-catching white rump, but the northern wheatear (or less...