basic information

Yellow Wagtail

Motacilla flava (Linnaeus, 1758)

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© Oksana Raldugina


The Yellow Wagtail is slightly less than White Wagtail with shorter tail. The male in breeding plumage has brightly-yellow underparts and greenish-yellow upperparts. The color and pattern of the head are very variable on different subspecies from all-white to dark-grey (please see the "Races" chapter). The flight feathers and wing coverts are dark-brown with pale edges of the outer webs. On the last secondaries and greater coverts these edges are broad pale-yellow. Two outer pairs of the tail feather are white with black patches on the inner webs, all other tail feather are black with narrow yellowish edges. The bill and legs are black, eyes are brown. The female in breeding plumage is plain grayish-brown above sometimes with green tinge expressed to uppertail having yellowish-green color. The underparts are white or pale-yellow; from the chin to undertail the color changes from almost white to brightly-yellow. After autumn plumage adult birds have grayish-olive tone; the head and mantle are same color; the ear coverts are not darker than other head parts. Underparts are yellow or yellowish-white. Juveniles are dirty buff-brownish above with buffy-whitish edges of wing coverts. Underparts are buffy, flanks are brownish. The throat and craw are dark mottled; legs are brownish. Juveniles are distinguished from juveniles of White Wagtail by the domination of the brown and rusty tones; by the expressive pale supercilium including between the eye and bill. In August juveniles become similar on autumn females and have some yellow on the abdomen. 14-24 grams, length about 17, wing 7,4-8,7, wingspan 23-27 cm.


"Птицы Казахстана" том 3. "Наука". Алма-Ата, 1970. В.К.Рябицев. "Птицы Урала, Приуралья и Западной Сибири". Екатеринбург, Изд-во Уральского университета, 2000.


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