624. Saxicola oenanthe.
The Wheatear Chat.
Motacilla oenanthe, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 332 (1766). Saxicola oenanthe (Linn.), Seebohm, Cat. B. M. v, p. 391; Biddulph, Ibis, 1881, p. 60: Scully, Ibis, 1881, p. 444; Hume, S. F. ix, p. 325 note.
Coloration. Male. After the autumn moult the feathers at the base of the upper mandible, a supercilium, and a moustachial streak are white ; lores, tinder the eye, and ear-coverts black; upper plumage slaty grey with broad rufous fringes ; rump and upper tail-coverts white; tail white, except the terminal two-thirds of the middle pair of feathers and the terminal quarter of the others, which are black; all the tail-feathers also tipped with pale buff; wings black, each feather with a rufous margin; lower plumage buff ; under wing-coverts and axillaries brown, edged with white. In summer the rufous fringes are cast, leaving the upper plumage slaty grey and the wings black.
Female. Feathers at base of upper mandible and supercilium pale rufous; lores and upper part of ear-coverts brown; lower part of ear-coverts rich ruddy ; upper plumage brown tinged with rufous ; rump and upper tail-coverts white ; tail as in male ; wing as in male, but not so black; lower plumage rich buff; axillaries and under wing-coverts brown, edged with white. In summer the colours are less brilliant, and the fringes to the wing-feathers are reduced in extent.
Bill and claws black; legs and toes brownish black (Scully); iris dark brown (Seebohm).
Length about 6; tail 2.3; wing 3.8; tarsus 1.05; bill from gape .8.
Distribution. Has been noticed in Gilgit during the spring migration in March and April. It is highly improbable that Jerdon should have procured this Chat in Central India, and there can be little doubt that the species recorded by him under the name of S. oenanthe was S. isabellina.
The Wheatear Chat has an immense range and migrates great distances. According to season it is found over a great part of Asia, Europe, Africa, and North America.