First record of Finsch’s Wheatear for India, Desert National Park, Rajasthan

Manoj Sharma


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Finsch’s Wheatear occurs from Asia Minor and the eastern Mediterranean in the west to eastern Afghanistan and western Pakistan in the east. This is the first fully documented record of the species for India.

A Finsch’s Wheatear (Oenanthe finschii), observed and photographed between 20th and 26th December 2018 near Sudasri, Desert National Park by a team of birders including Mukul Balkrishna Wasnik, Surat Singh Poonia, Manoj Sharma, C. Abhinav, Atul Jain, Sudhir Garg and Antar Singh was the first record of the species from the country. The bird had a slim black bill; white coloration of the crown continuing onto the mantle, upper back, lower back and base of the tail; black throat and side of the head, broadly connected to black wings; black scapulars and a dark tail with broad black ‘T-pattern’. The bird was observed in an area of sparsely vegetated desert habitat.

The species occurs from Asia Minor and the eastern Mediterranean shores eastwards to eastern Afghanistan and western Pakistan. There are a few erroneous records of the species from India. In the erstwhile British India, the species’ distribution was shown to include ‘North-West Frontier Province’, an area that is now north-west Pakistan. This was misunderstood by subsequent authors, during the post Indian partition era as ‘north-west India’. Another two publications in 1990s include the species in the checklist of birds of Sajjangarh Wildlife Sanctuary, an area that does not support the species’ habitat. Also the fact that Variable Wheatear, a common species of Sajjangarh Wildlife Sanctuary, is missing from this checklist, indicating that this was clearly the case of wrong identification. The observers published the record in ‘Birding Asia’, the bulletin of the Oriental Bird Club to put the facts in place.

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About the author

Manoj Sharma

The author is a naturalist and birdwatcher based in Ramnagar, Uttarakhand, India.


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