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wheatear

[hweet-eer, weet-] /ˈʰwitˌɪər, ˈwit-/
noun
1.
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
1585-1595
1585-95; probably back formation from wheatears, for *whiteers white rump. See white, arse
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for wheatear

wheatear

/ˈwiːtˌɪə/
noun
1.
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)
Word Origin
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 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for wheatear
n.

type of bird, 1590s, back-formation from white-ears, literally "white-arse" (see white + arse). So called for its color markings; cf. French name for the bird, cul-blanc, literally "white rump."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for 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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