Desert Wheatear Oenanthe deserti


Justification of Red List Category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified. The European population is estimated at 110-1,100 pairs, which equates to 220-2,200 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015), but Europe forms <5% of the global range.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats. In Europe the population size trend is unknown (BirdLife International 2015).


This species occupies dry steppes, dry sparsely bushed riverbeds, wadis, ruins and stony and gravel flatlands. The species breeds from February to June in Morocco, mid-March to end of May in Algeria and Tunisia, May-July in Egypt, early April to mid-July in Israel, from May in Pakistan and the Pamirs, April-June in central Asia, late April to mid-August in Mongolia and from mid-May in Dzungarian Gobi. The nest is a rather bulky construction, made of grass and root fibres and lined with finer grass, wool, hair or feathers. It is set in a hole in a roadside or riverbank, rock face, wall, bridge or other building, under a stone, bush or pile of stones, amid exposed roots or down old rodent burrow. Clutches are three to six eggs. The diet is principally invertebrates but will also occasionally take seeds (Collar 2016). The species is migratory, although some populations are only partially migratory (Snow and Perrins 1998).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CMS Appendix II. There are currently no known conservation measures for this species within its European range.

Conservation Actions Proposed
No conservation measures are thought to be needed for this species within its European range.


Text account compilers
Ashpole, J, Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Oenanthe deserti. Downloaded from on 29/11/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 29/11/2022.