Capped Wheatear

Oenanthe pileata

The Capped Wheatear inhabits dry, grassy or scrubby plains with open or overgrazed patches and often a rocky substrate, as well as recently ploughed or harvested fields. They feed on a very wide range of invertebrates and occasionally seeds and fruit. They move considerable distances after suitable habitat as their habitat changes with the seasons, and are especially fond of recently burned veld. They love sitting on elevated perches, like termite mounds or fence posts, and flies low to the ground between such vantage points.

Capped Wheatears are usually seen in pairs, or small family groups towards the end of the breeding season. Pairs are monogamous and territorial, and place their nests deep inside rodent burrows. In our part of the world Capped Wheatears breed in spring and summer. Clutches contain 2-5 eggs. Adults measure around 17cm in length and weigh approximately 25g.

According to the IUCN, the Capped Wheatear is a species of least concern. In South Africa they can be seen in the central and western parts of the country, being absent for the most part from the eastern parts of the Eastern Cape, Kwazulu-Natal and the Lowveld. Furthermore their distribution stretches beyond our borders to the DRC in the west and Kenya on the east of the continent.


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