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BTO Blueline
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BTO Blueline
Oenanthe oenanthe
Wheatear photograph © Derek Belsey
Conservation listings

Europe: no SPEC category, secure
UK: Green

Long-term trend
UK: possible decline
Status summary
Although common in many upland areas, the Wheatear was not monitored until the inception of the BBS in 1994. Gibbons et al. (1993) had by then identified range contractions from lowland Britain, perhaps due to losses of grassland and declines in rabbit abundance. The BBS shows wide fluctuations but no clear trend in abundance since 1994 in either England, Scotland or Wales. Failure rates at the egg stage (18 days, comprising 14 days incubation and 4 days laying) have fallen, but so has brood size.
BBS UK graph
Table of population changes for Wheatear
Source Period
Years Plots
Alert Comment
BBS UK 8 1994-2002 237 10 -3 25    
BBS England 8 1994-2002 113 13 -6 36    
BBS Scotland 8 1994-2002 73 10 -13 39    
BBS Wales 8 1994-2002 42 -5 -33 33    
BBS acknowledgement
BBS England graph
BBS Scotland graph
BBS Wales graph
Table of productivity information for Wheatear
Variable Period
Years Mean
Trend Predicted
in first year
in last year
Change Comment
Clutch size 33 1968-2001 14 None       Small sample
Brood size 33 1968-2001 66 Curvilinear 4.73 chicks 4.64 chicks -0.09 chicks  
Daily failure rate (eggs) 33 1968-2001 21 Linear decline 0.0226 nests/day 0.0066 nests/day -0.016 nests/day Small sample
Daily failure rate (chicks) 33 1968-2001 46 None        
Laying date 33 1968-2001 15 None       Small sample
Clutch size graph
Brood size graph
Egg nest failure graph
Chick nest failure graph
Laying date graph
Insufficient data on CES
available for this species
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This report should be cited as:
Crick, H.Q.P., Marchant, J.H., Noble, D.G., Baillie, S.R., Balmer, D.E., Beaven, L.P., Coombes, R.H.,
Downie, I.S., Freeman, S.N., Joys, A.C., Leech, D.I., Raven, M.J., Robinson, R.A. and Thewlis, R.M. (2004)
Breeding Birds in the Wider Countryside: their conservation status 2003.
BTO Research Report No. 353. BTO, Thetford. (http://www.bto.org/birdtrends2003)

Pages maintained by Susan Waghorn and Iain Downie: Last updated 16 February, 2009