|Oenanthe oenanthe||Order: Passeriformes||Family: Muscicapidae (Old World Flycatchers)|
This stunning bird of the far north is found mostly in Europe and Asia, though some breed in westernmost Canada and Alaska, and Greenland and easternmost Canada. Some individuals wander erratically—one turned up in Duluth for five days, beginning September 27, 1995, and was seen by many birders sitting conspicuously on dirt mounds along the edge of one of the ponds at Erie Pier. We got to see it flitting up to catch flies and fan its spectacular tail, showing off its conspicuous white rump. On the tundra where it lives, it doesn’t see many trees, and in Duluth, true to its nature, it stayed on the ground or in the air.
The bird doesn’t have a white ear and never spends time near wheat, much less put wheat anywhere near its ears. According to several sources including the American Heritage Dictionary, the word wheatear comes from the Anglo-Saxon for, and I am not making this up, “white-arse.”