Yellow Wagtail


Yellow Wagtail

Scientific Name:  Motacilla flava

Yellow Wagtail image

Yellow Wagtail  Photo by:  --

Bird Type:  Perching Birds    457  Views


Male breeding has olive-green upperparts and yellow underparts, with considerable subspecies variation in head coloration and patterning. Female in breeding plumage ussually shows some features of breeding male. First-winter birds typically have brownish-olive upperparts, whitish underparts with variable yellowish wash, and buff or whitish median- and greater-coverts wing-bars and fringes to tertials. Some first-winters, however, have greyish upperparts and whitish underparts(lacking any yellow) and have broader white wing-bars, and can closely resemble first-winter Citrine Wagtail. Compared with Citrine, grey-and-white first-winter Yellow typically show the following features: narrower white superclium which does not extend around ear-coverts to join white of throat; grey forehead concolourous with crown: dark lores resulting in complete dark eye-strips; pale bae to lower mandible, and narrower white wing-bars, Juvenile has a dark malar stripe and band across breast, Five subspecies have been recoreded in the subcontinent and breeding males are distinctive, M.f.beema has pale bluish-grey head, complete and distinct white supercilium, white chin, and usually a white submoustanchial stripe contrasting with yellow throat; ear-coverts are grey or brown, usualy with some white feathers. M.f. leucocephala has whole head to nape white, with a variable blue-grey cast on the ear-coverts and rear crown: chin is white, and throat yellow as rest of underparts. M.f.feldegg(including melamogrisea)has black head, lacking any supercilium, and usualy a white chin and poorly submoustachial stripe constrasting with yellow throat. M.f.thunbergi(including plexa)has dark slete-grey crown with darker ear desk coverts, lacking supercilium(although may show faint trace behind eye). M.f.lutea has mainly yellow head, with variauble amounts of yellowis-green on crown and nack and ear-coverts (concolorous with mantle). M. f. 'superciliaris' is an intergrade, probably between beema and feldegg, and looks like the latter, but with a white supercilium.


  • 18-18 cm

  • 7-7 Inch

  • yellow

  • white  (Bird may have more colors)
  •    পশ্চিমা হলদেখঞ্জন
  •    ભૂરા માથાનો પીલકીયો
  •    കരിന്തലയൻ മഞ്ഞ വാലുകുലുക്കി
  •    पिवळा धोबी, काळ्या डोक्याचा धोबी, पिवळा परीट
  •    पहेंलो टिकटिके
  •    पीत खञ्जन
  •    மேற்கத்திய வலசை வாலாட்டி
  •    ਖੱਟਾ ਮਮੋਲਾ

This insectivorous bird inhabits open country near water, such as wet meadows.


Diet includes wide variety of terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates; also some plant material, especially seeds.


Call is a loud pseeu (beema) or trreep (feldegg).


The western 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. 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.

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 high-pitched jeet.

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


Currently recognized subspecies

Colouration refers to males except when noted.

  • M. f. flava Linnaeus, 1758blue-headed wagtail

Blue-grey head with white supercilium and malar stripe in males, much washed with buffish green in females.

Breeding: southern Scandinavia to France and central European mountain ranges, east to Urals. Winter: sub-Saharan Africa.

  • M. f. flavissima Blyth, 1834yellow-crowned wagtail

Yellow-green head with a brighter yellow supercilium. Females markedly paler below than males.

Breeding: Britain and English Channel coast. Winter: Africa.

  • M. f. thunbergi Billberg, 1828dark-headed wagtail or grey-headed wagtail

Head dark grey, reaching down to the cheeks, and without white in males; lighter and washed greenish, with vestigial greenish supercilium in females.

Breeding: central and northern Scandinavia east to north-west Siberia. Winter: eastern Africa, Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia.

  • M. f. iberiae Hartert, 1921Iberian yellow wagtail

Like flava, but throat white and grey darker, almost black behind eyes.

Breeding: south-eastern France, Iberia, Maghreb from Tunisia to Banc d'Arguin. Winter: The Gambia to the Central African Republic.

  • M. f. cinereocapilla Savi, 1831ashy-headed wagtail

Like iberiae but supercilium absent or vestigial.

Breeding: Sicily, Sardinia, Italy, Slovenia. Winter: coastal Tunisia and Algeria, Mali to Lake Chad.

  • M. f. pygmaea (A. E. Brehm, 1854)Egyptian yellow wagtail

Similar to cinereocapilla, smaller, less bright.

Nile delta and lower Nile, resident all year.

  • M. f. feldegg Michahelles, 1830black-headed wagtail

Like thunbergi but black cap in males, females like a dull thunbergi male above, very washed-out dirty yellowish below, throat white.

Breeding: Balkans east to the Caspian Sea, south to Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan; also Levant. Winter: central Africa from Nigeria to Uganda and south Sudan.

  • M. f. lutea (S. G. Gmelin, 1774)yellow-headed wagtail

Head yellow with green neck in males, females like a somewhat more vivid flava female.

Breeding: Lower Volga to Irtysh River and Lake Zaysan. Winter: Africa and Indian subcontinent.

  • M. f. beema (Sykes, 1832)Sykes' wagtail

Like flava but head lighter grey, ears washed white; sexes often similar.

Breeding: North of lutea, east to Ladakh area. Winter: Indian subcontinent, also east Africa and adjacent Arabia.

  • M. f. melanogrisea (Homeyer, 1878)Turkestan black-headed wagtail

Similar to feldegg, but white malar stripe and sometimes green neck.

Breeding: Volga Delta east around Caspian Sea to northern Afghanistan. Winter: Pakistan and north-west India to western Nepal, possibly also north-eastern Africa.

  • M. f. plexa (Thayer & Bangs, 1914)north Siberian yellow wagtail

Males like thunbergi but ears darker, top of head lighter, vestigial supercilium. Females like dull males.

Breeding: Siberia between Khatanga and Kolyma Rivers. Winter: India, southe-east Asia.

  • M. f. leucocephala (Przevalski, 1887)white-headed yellow wagtail

Male like flava, but grey of head very pale, almost white. Female like flava females, but head somewhat darker.

Breeding: North-west Mongolia and adjacent PRC and Russia. Winter: probably India.

The nominate blue-headed wagtail and yellow wagtail form a narrow hybrid zone in northern France. Birds from this zone vary in appearance, but one type, which resembles nominate blue-headed wagtail (except that the blue tones to the head are paler and more mauve and the white of the head is more extensive, particularly on the throat, ear-coverts, and supercilium) is colloquially referred to as Channel wagtail.

    Resident (inc. local and altitudinal migrants)
    Former range (no recent records but may still survive)
    Summer visitor (including summer monsoon)
    Winter visitor
    Passage (autumn and/or spring) visitor
    known to be occasional, scarce or erratic
    Small isolated population (actual range smaller)  
    Isolated record(s) - one or more in the same area  
 colour coded for seasonality as per coloured ranges, black denotes unspecified season