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Wagtail

   

The Motacillidae are a family of small passerine birds with medium to long tails. They include the wagtails, longclaws and pipits. They are slender, ground feeding insectivores of open country. There are 54 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in Namibia.

African Pied Wagtail Motacilla aguimp

The African Pied Wagtail (Motacilla aguimp) is a species of bird in the Motacillidae family. It is found in Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical seasonally wet or flooded lowland grassland, rivers, and intermittent freshwater marshes.

Cape Wagtail Motacilla capensis


The Cape Wagtail (Motacilla capensis) is a small passerine bird in the family Motacillidae, which includes the wagtails, pipits and longclaws.

This species breeds in much of Africa from eastern Zaire and Angola across to Kenya and south to the Cape in South Africa.

This is an insectivorous bird of open country, often near habitation and water. It prefers bare areas or short grass for feeding, where it can see and pursue its prey. In urban areas it has adapted to foraging in gardens or paved areas such as car parks. Pairs make bulky nests in crevices in natural and man-made structures, and lay up to seven eggs.

The Cape Wagtail is a slender bird, 19–20 cm in length, with the characteristic longish, constantly wagging tail of its genus. The adult is plain grey-brown above, apart from pale wing edges and a short white supercilium. It has off-white underparts, with a dark grey band across the breast. Young birds are duller and have yellowish underparts. Cape Wagtail has a tsee chee chee call and a trilled whistled song.

This wagtail forages energetically for insect on the ground, alone or in pairs, moving with a characteristic bobbing motion that causes the tail to swing up and down. Feeding is often near water, including garden ponds, and this bird will eat tadpoles or tiny fish if the opportunity arises.

Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava

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.

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 males – 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.

The call 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.

Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea (A)


The Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) is a small member of the wagtail family, Motacillidae. The species looks similar to the Yellow Wagtail but has the yellow on its underside restricted to the throat and vent. Breeding males have a black throat. The species is widely distributed, with several populations breeding in Europe and Asia and migrating to tropical regions in Asia and Africa. They are usually seen on open marshy ground or meadows where they walk solitarily or in pairs along the ground, capturing insects that are disturbed. Like other wagtails, they frequently wag their tail and fly low with undulations and they have a sharp call that is often given in flight.

This slim wagtail has a narrow white supercilium and a broken eye ring. The upperparts are grey and the yellow vent contrasting with whitish underparts makes it distinctive. The breeding male has a black throat that is edged by whitish moustachial stripes. They forage singly or in pairs on meadows or on shallow water marshes. They also use rocks in water and will often perch on trees. They have a clear sharp call note and the song consists of trills.

   
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