Northern Wheatear
(Oenanthe oenanthe)


Picture of bird
© Jukka Jantunen (
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

Two subspecies of the Northern Wheatear occur in Canada; the western form nests in mountainous areas of the Yukon and the eastern form nests from the eastern subarctic to the High Arctic. Northern Wheatears are poorly monitored by existing survey programs. Therefore, the current status of their populations, relative to about 1970, cannot be assessed at this time. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Apparently secure2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaData DeficientData DeficientData Deficient

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada50,000 - 500,000 adults

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Paleotropical migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population

Conservation and management

The species' global population size is perhaps 125 million individuals (Moreau 1972), and its global conservation status is secure. Some areas of the breeding range found along the Labrador coast may be exposed to flights of low-level military aircraft and localized loss of habitat from natural resource extraction (Peckford and Whitaker 2005). Although populations have declined in some European countries due to habitat loss (Kren and Zoerb 1997), such declines are unlikely in Canada due to the remote nature of the species' breeding range. However, declines in habitat quality on the African wintering grounds may affect Canadian populations (Montgomerie 2018).


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Arctic Plains and MountainsArctic Plains and Mountains, sub-region and priority type: Atlantic, NL -- Other