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Northern Wheatear season

Posted on Sep 7, 2014

The Northern Wheatear is undoubtedly one of my favorite North American nesting species despite the fact it is one of the toughest to find in the contiguous United States. I have no real reason for why I love the bird except for the fact that it is so difficult to call it simply a “North American” species and I admire its biology. Two populations nest on the continent with a western group breeding in Alaska and far northwest Canada with an eastern group in north central and northeastern Canada, the former group migrating southeastward across Asia to move to Europe and finally Africa and the latter migrating across the Atlantic to Europe and also ending up in Africa.

Once in a while we are lucky enough to get one of those birds to move to the south first before crossing the Atlantic and September is the perfect time of year to keep your eyes peeled for this rarity in open areas. This was the case several years ago in Connecticut as we enjoyed this bird in my hometown of Stratford.

Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)

Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) 2

Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) 3

Being on the coast helped and having an airport right on Long Island Sound made the perfect spot for a bird that prefers barren grasslands and rocky/sandy habitat. If you live near the Atlantic or by any significant open areas watch for the bird during the next couple of months…and please, give me a call when you find one!

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator