Mourning Wheatear at Petra, Jordan - March 2012
The Mourning Wheatear (Oenanthe lugens) is a bird, one of 14 species of wheatear found in the Palearctic region. It is a small passerine in a group formerly classed as members of the Thrush family Turdidae, but now more generally considered to be part of the Old World Flycatcher family Muscicapidae.
The Mourning Wheatear was first described by Lichenstein in 1823. It is an elegant and strikingly beautiful bird found in semi-desert areas in North Africa and the Middle East. It is sexually dimorphic with the females sporting more subtle plumage.
An intriguing dark morph of the Mourning Wheatear (the so-called Basalt Wheatear) occurs in the basalt desert of NE Jordan.
The north African subspecies halophila, considered by some to be a separate species, Western Mourning Wheatear, occurs from Morocco east to western Egypt. The Egyptian populations are discussed in Baha El Din and Baha El Din (2000). These birds differ from typical halophila in exhibiting less sexual dimorphism, and displaying a prominent white wingbar, and thus are closer to the nominate race.
Panov (Wheatears of Palearctic, 2005) discusses the latest taxonomy for the Mourning Wheatear superspecies. The Mourning Wheatear is split from Schalow's Wheatear (Oenanthe lugubris), which is the species found south of the Sahara.
It has been recorded in the following countries: Algeria, Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.