Mystery wheatear (Oenanthe sp.) photographed in Morocco

By | 19 April 2015

This wheatear with a strange plumage was photographed in Morocco by Chris Smallbones last March and forwarded to us by his colleague Mike Langman. It’s difficult to assign a name to this ‘white-eared wheatear’. It appears that it’s an abnormal individual. But, is it a Black Wheatear (Oenanthe leucura) or maybe a hybrid between this species and the White- crowned Wheatear (Oenanthe leucopyga)? Unfortunately the white undertail is not visible, the same for the tail, but the brownish plumage points towards a Black Wheatear.

Comments welcome (please don’t ask for better photos, because it’s a cropped version of the original photos which were taken from quite a distance).

Thanks to both Chris and Mike.

Mystery wheatear (Oenanthe sp.), Atlas Mountains, Morocco (Chris Smallbones)

Mystery wheatear (Oenanthe sp.), Atlas Mountains, Morocco (Chris Smallbones)

Update:

Thomas S. Lahlafi commented the following (in GOMAC fb group):

It reminds me of this Black Wheatear [photos below] observed with Brahim Bakass feeding its chicks in summer 2014, more or less in the region of Oukaimeden.

Ca me rappelle ce Traquet rieur observé en train de nourrir ces petits l’été 2014, plus ou moins dans la région de l’Oukaimeden, avec Brahim Bakass.

We can see that these birds are quite similar in general appearance and also in having the white patch around the ear of the same shape. So the conclusion is that the first bird is also a partially leucistic Black Wheatear.

Thanks Thomas for the comment and the photographs!

Partially leucistic Black Wheatear (Oenanthe leucura), summer 2014, Oukaimeden, High Atlas (Thomas S. Lahlafi).

Partially leucistic Black Wheatear (Oenanthe leucura), summer 2014, Oukaimeden, High Atlas (Thomas S. Lahlafi).

Partially leucistic Black Wheatear (Oenanthe leucura), summer 2014, Oukaimeden, High Atlas (Thomas S. Lahlafi).

Partially leucistic Black Wheatear (Oenanthe leucura), summer 2014, Oukaimeden, High Atlas (Thomas S. Lahlafi).

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