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Wagtails, Motacilla........

Citrine Wagtail / Yellow-hooded Wagtail, No: Sitronerle, Motacilla citreola
White Wagtail, No: Linerle, Motacilla alba  
Yellow Wagtail, No: Gulerle, Motacilla flava

Motacilla alba alba
Photo: Andreas Trepte, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:White-Wagtail.jpg

The wagtails form the passerine bird genus Motacilla. They are small birds with long tails which they wag frequently. Motacilla, the root of the family and genus name, means moving tail. The Forest Wagtail belongs to
the monotypic genus Dendronanthus which is closely related to Motacilla and sometimes included herein.

The Willie Wagtail, Rhipidura leucophrys, of Australia is an unrelated bird similar in colouration and shape to
the Japanese Wagtail. It belongs to the fantail flycatchers.

Wagtails are slender, often colourful, ground-feeding insectivores of open country in the Old World. They are ground nesters, laying up to six speckled eggs at a time. Among their most conspicuous behaviours is a near constant tail wagging. In spite of the ubiquity of the behaviour and observations of it, the reasons for it are poorly understood. It has been suggested that it may flush up prey, or that it may signal submissiveness to other wagtails. Recent studies have suggested instead that it is a signal of vigilance that may aid to deter potential predators.
Or within short, they will suggest something else again....

Order: Passeriformes
Family: Motacillidae

Genus: Motacilla

White Wagtail, Motacilla alba - polyphyletic or paraphyletic
   Wagtail, Motacilla alba alba - Europe
   Pied Wagtail, Motacilla alba yarrellii - Great Britain, Ireland
   Black-backed Wagtail, Motacilla alba lugens - Russia Far East
   Indian Pied Wagtail, Motacilla alba dukhunensis - Asia
   Persian Wagtail, Motacilla alba persica - North, Central and western Iran
   Moroccan Wagtail, Motacilla alba supersonata - Morocco, resident
   Masked Wagtail, Motacilla alba personata - Central Asia
   Himalayan Wagtail, Motacilla alba alboides - Himalaya and surrounding area
   Baikal Wagtail, Motacilla alba baicalensis - Lake Baikal area, Mongolia
   Siberian Wagtail, Motacilla alba ocularis - Siberia, Far East, Alaska
   Amur Wagtail, Motacilla alba leucopsis
- China, Korea, Taiway, Ryukyu Island
Japanese Wagtail, Motacilla grandis
White-browed Wagtail, Motacilla maderaspatensis
Mekong Wagtail,Motacilla samveasnae - was described as new to science only in 2001.
African Pied Wagtail, Motacilla aguimp
Citrine Wagtail, Motacilla citreola - possibly paraphyletic
Yellow Wagtail, Motacilla flava
   Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava flava - paraphyletic
Grey Wagtail, Motacilla cinerea
Cape Wagtail, Motacilla capensis
Madagascar Wagtail, Motacilla flaviventris
Mountain Wagtail, Motacilla clara
Eastern Yellow Wagtail, Motacilla tschutschensis

Engelsk Norsk Latinsk
African Pied Wagtail Afrikaerle Motacilla aguimp
White Wagtail Linerle Motacilla alba
Cape Wagtail Askeerle Motacilla capensis
Gray Wagtail Vintererle Motacilla cinerea
Citrine Wagtail / Yellow-hooded Wagtail Sitronerle Motacilla citreola
Mountain Wagtail Bergerle Motacilla clara
Yellow Wagtail Gulerle Motacilla flava
Madagascar Wagtail Gulbukerle Motacilla flaviventris
Japanese Wagtail Japanerle Motacilla grandis
White-browed Wagtail Skjæreerle Motacilla madaraspatensis
Mekong Wagtail Mekongerle Motacilla samveasnae
Eastern Yellow Wagtail Østgulerle Motacilla tschutschensis

Pied Wagtail, No: Linerle, Motacilla alba  

Pied Wagtail, No: Linerle, Motacilla alba
© http://www.ecosystema.ru/

The Pied Wagtail is widespread over most of Europa, except for Svalbard, Baleares, Corsica, Sardinia and
Cyprus. You may also find it in the Ethiopian region, Turkey, Iran and most of the palearctic part of Asia.
It is also to be found in the western parts of Alaska.

Motacilla alba is all over Europe, except for the British Isles, where they have the darker Motacilla alba yarrellii (see below).
In the southern part of European Russia we find another subspecie, Motacilla dukhunensis. And finally (almost),
we have the subspecia Motacilla. subpersonata in Morocco. So again there are even 7 more subspecies from
Ural and eastward through Asia.

© www.ecosystema.ru/

For some unknown reason (?) it looks like the Pied Wagtail is more or less connected to people and buildings,
and are absent or few in uninhabitated areas and homogenious woodland.

The nest is well covered under a stone, or in a hole in a building, but always with a relative large opening to the
free. Often you may hear about wagtails having their nests in cars and other motorvehicles that have been put
away for some time.

During the month of May it lays 6 eggs, and after 13 days the chickes come out. Two weeks later they leave
the nest by themselves, and in the autumn they go south to Southen Europa or Northern Africa. When spring
comes, they very often return to the same place they were born.
Tor Ålbu. 1994: Linerle, Motacilla alba.
S. 338 i: Norsk fugleatlas. Norsk Ornitologisk Forening, Klæbu.

Male Pied Wagtail, Motacilla alba yarrellii, England, July 2007
© Arthur Grosset

There are several quite distinct subspecies of Pied Wagtail. The subspecies commonly found in Britain is
Motacilla alba yarrellii in which the male has a glossy black back as in photo above, and the female has a dark grey back, photo below.

Female Pied Wagtail, Motacilla alba yarrellii, England, September 2007
© Arthur Grosset

Juveniles have grey rather than black and dark sides to the head.
It is as much a town bird as a country bird and is often found close to water.

Yellow Wagtail, No: Gulerle, Motacilla flava

Yellow Wagtail, No: Gulerle, Motacilla flava
© http://www.ecosystema.ru/

The Yellow Wagtail, Motacilla flava, is a small passerine in the wagtail family Motacillidae, which also
includes the pipits and longclaws.

This species breeds in much of temperate Europe and Asia and has a foothold in North America in Alaska.
It is resident in the milder parts of its range, such as western Europe, but northern and eastern populations
migrate to Africa and south Asia. The Beringian population winters further down the Pacific coast.

Yellow Wagtail, Motacilla flava, Russia Yamalo-Nenetsky AO, .2004
© www.ecosystema.ru/

Vagrant individuals occur around the winter quarters at migration time. For example, on Palau in Micronesia
migrant flocks of this species – apparently of the Bering Sea Yellow Wagtail, and including many adult male
s – are regularly seen, while further north on the Marianas, only the occasional stray individual – usually females
or immatures as it seems – is encountered.

It is a slender 15–16 cm long bird, with the characteristic long, constantly wagging tail of its genus.
It is the shortest tailed of the European wagtails. The breeding adult male is basically olive above and yellow
below. In other plumages, the yellow may be diluted by white. The heads of breeding males come in a variety
of colours and patterns depending on subspecies.

Yellow Wagtail, Motacilla flava, Russia Yamalo-Nenetsky AO, .2004
© www.ecosystema.ru/

The call of the Yellow Wagtail is a characteristic high-pitched jeet.

This insectivorous bird inhabits open country near water, such as wet meadows.
It nests in tussocks, laying 4-8 speckled eggs.

This species' systematics and phylogeny is extremely confusing. Literally dozens of subspecies have been
described at one time or another, and some 15-20 are currently considered valid depending on which author
reviews them. In addition, the Citrine Wagtail, Motacilla citreola, forms a cryptic species complex with this bird;
both taxa as conventionally delimited are paraphyletic in respect to each other. The populations of the Beringian
region are sometimes separated as Eastern Yellow Wagtail, Motacilla tschutschensis.
List of some of the subspecies here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_Wagtail
Source: Wikipedia

Citrine Wagtail / Yellow-hooded Wagtail, No: Sitronerle, Motacilla citreola

Citrine Wagtail, Motacilla citreola
© http://www.ecosystema.ru/
The Citrine Wagtail or Yellow-headed Wagtail, Motacilla citreola, is a small songbird in the family Motacillidae.
The term citrine refers to its yellowish colouration. Its systematics, phylogeny and taxonomy are subject of considerable debate in the early 21st century. This is because this bird forms a cryptic species complex with the
Yellow Wagtail, Motacilla flava. Which of the many taxa in this group should properly refer to which population is unlikely to be resolved in the immediate future.

It is a slender, 15.5–17 cm long bird, with the long, constantly wagging tail characteristic of the genus Motacilla. The adult male in breeding plumage is basically grey or black above, with white on the remiges, and bright yellow
below and on the entire head except for the black nape. In winter plumage, its yellow underparts may be diluted
by white, and the head is brownish with a yellowish supercilium. Females look generally like washed-out versions
of males in winter plumage.

Citrine Wagtail, Motacilla citreola
© Arthur Grosset

This species breeds in north central Asia in wet meadows and tundra. It migrates in winter to south Asia, often
to highland areas. Its range is expanding westwards, and it is a rare but increasing vagrant to western Europe.
Vagrants seem to extend the migration rather than straying en route; in Bhutan for example, though along one
of the species' migration flyways, the Citrine Wagtail has been recorded as an extremely rare passer-by rather
than staying even for a few days or weeks

It is an insectivorous bird of open country near water, such as wet meadows and bogs, and nests on the ground, laying 4-5 speckled eggs.

Citrine wagtail, Motacilla citreola, at Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, Rajasthan, India.
Male Weigold's Citrine Wagtail, Motacilla citreola calcarata

Photo: J.M.Garg, http://en.wikipedia.org/....IMG_5752.jpg


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