North American wheatears are reported to undergo some of the longest migration distances between breeding and wintering ranges of any songbird of similar size. Birds breeding in Alaska and northwestern Canada migrate to eastern Africa via Asia and the Middle East, a one-way distance exceeding 9,000 miles. The leucorhoa subspecies migrates to western Europe and then to western Africa, although studies also indicate transatlantic nonstop migrations exceeding 2,000 miles also occur.
The taxonomic classification of Northern Wheatear is unsettled. Some authorities place wheatears among Old World Flycatchers of the Family Muscicapidae; others classify them with Thrushes (Family Turdidae).
Sightings of Northern Wheatears in Vermont, or in the Lower 48 for that matter, are rare with most reports occurring in the fall of year. Most Vermont sightings have been in the Champlain Valley. This most recent record is a bird of the Greenland subspecies recognized by the pronounced buff color on the throat, much paler in nominate race birds.