Kyzylkum desert. Southern Kazakhstan.
© Boris Gubin
Male Finsch's Wheatear in spring is white above with grayish tinge on head. Lores, head-flanks, neck-flanks, chin, throat and scapulars are black. Rest underparts are white. Flight feathers and its coverts are black, tail feathers are white terminal banded. Bill, legs and claws are black. Spring female is grey-brownish above, its uppertail is white. Throat and craw are buffy-grey, belly and undertail are white. Flight feathers and its coverts are dark-brownish with white edges; tail feathers are white with dark-brownish terminal band. Bill, legs and claws are black. In fresh plumage upperparts are grayish-buffy-sandy, uppertail is white; secondaries and its coverts have white edges. Juveniles are similar to female but yellower above and with pale edges on tail and flight feathers. Sizes: wing 88-95, tail 65-70, tarsus 23-28, bill 17-18 mm. Weight: males 20.5-28.5, females 20.5-32.5 gr.
Finsch's Wheatear breeds and occurs on migration on Mangyshlak (Karatau, Aktau) and Southern Ustyurt, and also in Kyzylkum desert adjacent to Syrdarya valley. Breeding pair recorded 26 May 2004 in Kishikol ruins at Chelkar-Nura plateau. In winter single bird observed on Mangyshlak at 14 February 1963.
Finsch's Wheatear is common breeding migrant. It inhabits hilly sands fasten by bushes, or stony places with rocks, chalky and clayey soil precipices. Appears in early - mid-March. Nest is built between stones, in rock cavities, in ground holes of Gerbilles and Ground Squirrels, in cracks and cavities of precipices; nest is built from dry grass and is lined with plenty of hair and feathers. Between nest and entrance the many small flat stones, sometimes glass, brick, faience splinters and flat bones, are placed (up to 720 g in weight). Clutches of 4-6 eggs are found from late March to end of May. Only female incubates for 12 days. Both parents feed juveniles, which fledge from early May to early July. Two broods per season. Autumn migration passes late, majority of birds leave in first half of November.
"Птицы Казахстана" том 3. "Наука". Алма-Ата, 1970. Э.И.Гаврилов. "Фауна и распространение птиц Казахстана". Алматы, 1999. Gavrilov E. I., Gavrilov A. E. "The Birds of Kazakhstan". Almaty, 2005.
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