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Oenanthe hispanica

warning Endangered
EN (C1)

Contributed: Avner Rinot, Yoav Perlman, Asaf Mayrose, Lior Kislev, Rei Segali, Ezra Hadad, Tuvia Kahn, Yosef Kiat, Yuvak Dax, Yaron Bazer, Eyal Shochat

The Black-eared Wheatear is classified as Endangered (EN) because of the continued decline in its population size. The decline rate is estimated at over 20% in two generations (8.2 years). In the previous edition of the Red Book (2002), it was classified as Least Concern (LC). The change in the threat category reflects the dramatic decline of its population, as expressed by the decrease in its range and the number of individuals. The reduction in the occurrence of the species has been apparent since the early 2000s. The Black-eared Wheatear has completely disappeared from extensive areas in which it was once common, such as the Western Galilee, Mt. Carmel, the Judean Lowlands, the Judean Mountains and Western Samaria.
EN Current Regional Assessment | LC Previous Regional Assessment | LC World Assessment

Habitats Rocky Terrain, Mediterranean Batha, Semi-desert Batha
Presence In Israel Summer Breeder, Migrant
Nesting In Israel Breeder
Migration Types Long Range
Zoography Zones Mediterranean, Irano-Turanian
Landscape Formations Mountainous, Rugged Terrain
Vegetation Formations Steppe
Vegetation Densities Low, Medium
Nest Locations Ground
Diet Types Invertebrate
Foraging Grounds Ground
Body Sizes Small (up to 500g)
Threat Factors Plantations, Wildfires, Habitat Desctruction, Habitat Fragmentation

The Black-eared Wheatear is the only wheatear that summers and breeds in northern and central Israel (with the exception of the Mt. Hermon heights, where other wheatear species breed). It is conspicuous with its contrasting black-white plumage, territorial behavior and loud song. It is sexually dimorphic – the males have a very contrasting plumage with a white or yellowish crown, back and belly, contrasting with the black wings and cheeks; some of the individuals have black throats. The females are brown-gray with white only on their tails.

Inhabits rocky shrubland, often in cliff walls, at the edge of quarries and in areas undergoing development and soil stripping.

The Black-eared Wheatear is threatened by development, destruction and modification of shrublands and their conversion to settlements and planted forests. In the Judean Lowlands, Eastern Lakhish and Western Samaria it has been impacted by frequent wildfires started by army training exercises. In addition, the species is also apparently affected by desertification processes and overexploitation in its wintering and migration areas.

No specific conservation measures have been taken for this species to date.

The Black-eared Wheatear is a migrating species classified as Endangered because of the decline in its population size and range. During the past two decades, it has disappeared from extensive areas in Western Samaria, the Carmel and the Galilee. The major factors threatening the species in Israel are the continued reduction of uninterrupted shrubland areas and their quality, and also desertification processes and overexploitation of habitats in the species’ wintering range and along its migration route.

Educational activities in army units to reduce wildfire incidents.
Expanding firebreaks to prevent fire expansion.
Restricting afforestation in shrublands.
Protecting continuous shrubland areas from construction and development.

  • ישראלי, נ. ופרלמן, י. 2013. סיכום סקר עופות מקננים בחרמון. דו"ח מרכז הצפרות של החברה להגנת הטבע.
  • מירוז, א. 2008. סיכום סקר ציפורים בשמורת סנסן אביב 2008. דו"ח רשות הטבע והגנים ומרכז הצפרות של החברה להגנת הטבע.
  • מירוז, א. 2013. סיכום סקר ציפורים במזרח לכיש, אביב 2013. דו"ח רשות הטבע והגנים.
  • מירוז, א. ושוחט, א. 2014. סיכום סקר ציפורים סביב היישוב נטע במזרח לכיש – 2014. דו"ח רשות הטבע והגנים.
  • מירוז, א., 2007 . סיכום סקר ציפורים בגבעות גומר. דו"ח עבור רשות הטבע והגנים.
  • פז, ע. 1986. עופות. מתוך אלון, ע. (עורך), החי והצומח של ארץ ישראל. כרך 6. הוצאת משרד הביטחון, ישראל.
  • Shirihai, H., 1996. The Birds of Israel. Academic Press, London.
  • Shochat, E., Abramski, Z., Pinshow, B., 2001. Breeding bird species diversity in the Negev: Effects of Scrub Fragmentation by planted forests. Journal of Applied Ecology, 38, 1135-1147.
  • Symes, A. 2013. Species generation lengths. Unpublished, BirdLife International.
  • Species page at Birdlife International
Contributed: Avner Rinot, Yoav Perlman, Asaf Mayrose, Lior Kislev, Rei Segali, Ezra Hadad, Tuvia Kahn, Yosef Kiat, Yuvak Dax, Yaron Bazer, Eyal Shochat

Current Occupancy Map

Distribution maps

The maps presented here provide visual information on the distribution of species in Israel in the past and present, and the changes in occupancy and nesting density during the comparison period. For further reading

Relative Abundance 2010-2020

Breeding density values as calculated from observation records and expert opinions.

Relative Abundance 1980-1990

Breeding density values are based mainly on the book Birds of Israel (Shirihai 1996).

Occupancy difference 1990-2020

A map that expresses differences in the breeding distribution between the evaluation periods (1980-1990 versus 2010-2020). Negative value - species previously present but is currently absent, positive value - species has not been recorded previously and is currently present, zero - no change in occupancy.

Relative abundance difference 1990-2020

A map that reflects the changes in the relative abundance of the species between the evaluation periods (1980-1990 versus 2010-2020). Negative values - decline in abundance, positive values - increase in abundance, zero - no change in abundance.

Red number

IUCN category

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% of protected sites

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