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Persian Wheatear

Oenanthe chrysopygia

CONSERVATION STATUS.

The Persian Wheatear has a quite narrow range in Armenia and low density. Here the species is at the western border of its distribution range and its population is not stable and vulnerable. It is rather sensitive towards habitat changes, but can survive in orchards which mosaic enter into its natural habitat.

HABITAT.

The Persian Wheatear prefers semi-deserts with rich rocky outcrops and cliffs. The dominating vegetation in these habitats are usually Artemisia, Paliurus spina-Christi, and Atraphaxis spinosa. It usually prefers scarce vegetation and doesn’t inhabit the areas where the bush cover becomes too dense.  

FEEDING BEHAVIOR.

Forages either from rock perch with perch-and-pounce method, or on ground with bound-and-grab method; very adept at running over slabs of rock and boulders to take terrestrial prey; also picks items off vegetation, digs in earth with bill, sallies after flying insects.

 

EGGS. 

3–6. White or with slight bluish tinge and with tiny reddish speckles; incubation period 13 days by both parents. The nestling period takes about 14-15 days and both sexes are involved in feeding nestlings.

YOUNG.

The data about fledglings is rather scarce and it is only known that those were observed with parents on 10th day after fledging.

DIET.

The diet of the species consists of mainly invertebrates and also some plant matter. Animal food includes adult and larval beetles of at least eleven families, adult and larval lepidopterans of at least seven families, many types of hymenopterans (sawflies, ichneumons, ants, social and solitary wasps, bees), bugs of at least eight families, grasshoppers, locusts, bush-crickets, termites, ant-lion larvae, caddis flies, adult and larval flies of at least three families, spiders, mites, myriapods, woodlice, sandhoppers; one record of small lizard.

NESTING.

The nesting period begins in April and the species is usally double-brooded. The territory size of a pair varies makes about 1–3 ha, but territories have some overlap. Nest is a grassy, rather deep cup, lined with fine rootlets and grass, with collection of small stones at entrance, placed in rock hollow inside cave.

MIGRATION.

The species is migratory and flies from Armenia in September, while arrives in late March to early April.

DISTRIBUTION.

The species breeds in Southern Armenia, Azerbaijan and much of Iran east to Southern Turkmenistan, Southern Tajikistan, Afghanistan and extreme west of Pakistan. Non-breeding range includes Arabian Peninsula, Southern Iraq, Southern Iran, Eastern Afghanistan, Pakistan and North-western India.

CONSERVATION MEASURES.

The species is evaluated as Least Concern in IUCN Red List, and as Endangered for the Red Book of Animals of Armenia (2010). The species is not included in CITES and Bern Convention. Some parts of its distribution range are covered by Zangezur Biosphere Complex however main part of its population inhabits community lands, which have a recent tendency of becoming transferred under orchards, which will putting the species in a face of habitat loss. All of the areas of its distribution range are included in Emerald Sites, and therefore require development of management plans. The plans should include the land management issues and in particular require careful assessment of new orchards projects, and also recommend development of mosaic structures for orchards.

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