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Oenanthe monticola (Mountain wheatear, Mountain chat) 

Bergwagter [Afrikaans]; Khaloli, Letšoana-tšoana, Letšoanafike [South Sotho]; Bergtapuit [Dutch]; Traquet montagnard [French]; Bergschmätzer [German]; Chasco-montês [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Muscicapidae > Genus: Oenanthe

Oenanthe monticola (Mountain wheatear, Mountain chat)  Oenanthe monticola (Mountain wheatear, Mountain chat) 

Mountain wheatear. [photo Neil Gray ©]

Mountain wheatear. [photo Johann Grobbelaar ©]

Distribution and habitat

Near-endemic to southern Africa, occurring from south-west Angola through Namibia to South Africa. It generally prefers boulder-strewn hillsides with scattered bushes, old mine workings, small cliffs, farmyards and gardens of houses on rocky slopes.

Distribution of Mountain wheatear in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Predators and parasites

It has been recorded as prey of the Common fiscal (Lanius collaris).

Brood parasites

It has been recorded as host of the Diderick cuckoo.


It mainly eats invertebrates, often foraging on the ground and on rocks, plucking smaller prey leisurely but also chasing and stabbing larger invertebrates. It may also forage from a perch, pouncing on prey on the ground or hawking them in the air. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • The nest (see image below) is constructed solely by the female in about 4-14 days, consisting of a shallow cup set into an untidy platform built of a variety of materials, such as grass, woody stems, twigs, trapdoor spider webs, petioles, dried flowers, seeds, larval and pupal Lepidoptera cases, dried moss, pebbles, dung and snake skin. It is typically placed beneath a boulder, in a crevice set into a rock, wall or building or in a box-shape structure, such as a nest box or cupboard.
Oenanthe monticola (Mountain wheatear, Mountain chat)  

Mountain wheatear nest, Springfontein, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ©]

  • Egg-laying season is from June-March, peaking from September-November.
  • It lays 2-4 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 13 days, occasionally leaving the nest to forage while the male defends the territory.
  • The chicks are brooded by the female at night for the first 10 days of their lives, with both adults feeding them on a diet of insects and Arthropods. They eventually leave the nest after about 14-17 days, becoming fully independent about a month later.


Not threatened.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.