wheatear

wheatear

[hweet-eer, weet-]
noun
any of several small, chiefly Old World thrushes of the genus Oenanthe, having a distinctive white rump, especially O. oenanthe, of Eurasia and North America.

Origin:
1585–95; probably back formation from wheatears, for *whiteers white rump. See white, arse

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World English Dictionary
wheatear (ˈwiːtˌɪə)
 
n
any small northern songbird of the genus Oenanthe, esp O. oenanthe, a species having a pale grey back, black wings and tail, white rump, and pale brown underparts: subfamily Turdinae (thrushes)
 
[C16: back formation from wheatears (wrongly taken as plural), probably from white + arse; compare Dutch witstaart, French culblanc white tail]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

wheatear
type of bird, 1591, back-formation from white-ears, lit. "white-arse" (see white + arse). So called for its color markings; cf. Fr. name for the bird, cul-blanc, lit. "white rump."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

wheatear

(genus Oenanthe), any of a group of 19 species of thrushes belonging to the family Turdidae. They resemble wagtails in having pied plumage and the tail-wagging habit (with body bobbing). Wheatears are about 15 cm (6 inches) long and have comparatively short tails, often with T-shaped markings. Most are black and white or black and gray; some have yellow touches; and each has a white rear (modified to "whetear"). Wheatears are strong-flying residents of open, usually dry and rocky, regions of Eurasia and Africa. The common wheatear (O. oenanthe) breeds also in Alaska, Iceland, Greenland, and northeastern Canada.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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