Karatau mountains, Ters-Ashchibulak reservoir
© Yevgeny Belousov
The Isabelline Wheatear is larger than Northern Wheatear, has the longer legs, larger head and shorter tail. Sexes are similar and have light tawny color. Both male and female look same female Northern Wheatear but duller and lighter especially the wings; the axillaries and underwing coverts are white, whereas in the commoner bird they are mottled with grey; alula is the darkest part of the wing. The male is distinguished from female by the neat and darker lore, but some females also have quite dark lore. The differences in color of seasonal plumages are insignificant. Juveniles are darker than adults, have dark and light-buffy spots on upperparts and crescent patterns on the breast. Juveniles Isabelline Wheatears are distinguished from juveniles of other Wheatears by the tail. The tail in all plumages has the wide dark-brown terminal band about half of tail in length. The behavior is same on other Wheatears; looking round it often upright stays. Weight 22-38 grams, length 15-19, wing 8,0-10,6, wingspan 28-32 cm.
Breeds and occurs on migration above all in southern half of Kazakhstan plains, in the north to Chelkar lake, upper Chingirlau river, Naurzum, Kurgaldzhino Reserves, Shortandy, southern coast of Selety-Teniz lake and Semipalatinsk. Breeds also in Southern Altai in the middle Bukhtarma valley, in Zaysan depression and Chiliktinskaya valley. In 18 June1989 one bird was observed in Pavlodar Trans-Irtysh area. Occupies also mountain areas of Tien Shan (up to Ugam ridge) and Dzhungarskiy Alatau. Breeding in Tarbagatay is not proved, but near Makanchi one brood recorded on 13 July 1982. On migration occurs on Markakol lake. Information about breeding in Aktobe steppe and in Kazakh Upland is absent.
The Isabelline Wheatear is common in most of the range but in places abundant or rare breeding migrant. It inhabits open desert and steppe with rare grass and bushes. In mountains it in highland to 1450-3200 m. Isabelline Wheatear prefers the countries of living of the Ground Squirrels and the Marmots. It avoids the quicksands and the rocks. On migration it visits open habitats only. In spring it arrives in early March singly or in loose groups of 10-15 birds, majority of the birds migrates in April, when they appear in highlands. Breeds in separate pairs not close one to another. The majority of the nests are built in the uninhabited burrows of rodents or Bee-eaters at 95-310 cm from entrance, rare in the cavities of clay precipices, between the stones or in the clay-made buildings. Before the male the female only builds the bulky nest from the dry grass; and plenty lines it with hairs, feathers, sometimes vegetation fluff and cotton. The clutch of 4-7, usually 5 eggs is in the mid-April – early July. Only female incubates for 12-15 days. Both parents feed hatchlings, juveniles fledge in mid-May till end July. On plains two broods per season, but in highlands only one. Autumn migration starts early in the end of July. Majority of the birds leave in August, latest migrants observed in early-mid October (one bird recorded on 3 November 1965 at lower Ural river).
В.К.Рябицев. "Птицы Урала, Приуралья и Западной Сибири". Екатеринбург, Изд-во Уральского университета, 2000. Э.И.Гаврилов. "Фауна и распространение птиц Казахстана". Алматы, 1999. Gavrilov E. I., Gavrilov A. E. "The Birds of Kazakhstan". Almaty, 2005. А.Ф.Ковшарь "Певчие птицы". Алма-Ата, "Кайнар", 1983.
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