White Wagtail

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White Wagtail
Adult male Pied Wagtail

Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order:Passeriformes
Family:Motacillidae
Genus: Motacilla
Species:M. alba
Binomial name
Motacilla alba
Linnaeus, 1758

The White Wagtail (Motacilla alba) is a small passerine in the wagtail family Motacillidae, which also includes the pipits and longclaws.

This species breeds in much of Europe and Asia and parts of north Africa. It is resident in the mildest parts of its range, but otherwise migrates to Africa. It has a toehold in Alaska as a scarce breeder.

This is an insectivorous bird of open country, often near habitation and water. It prefers bare areas for feeding, where it can see and pursue its prey.

It nests in crevices in stone walls and similar natural and man-made structures.

This is a slender bird, 16.5-19cm in length, with the characteristic long, constantly wagging tail of its genus. It is basically grey above and white below, with a white face, black cap and black throat.

The resident British subspecies, the Pied Wagtail, Motacilla alba yarrellii, is a generally blacker bird than the nominate race of western Europe, M. a. alba, but is otherwise identical in its behaviour.

It is likely that the differentiation of White Wagtail into two subspecies (or races) in western Europe has arisen because of the partial isolation of the mainly resident British form, although M. a. yarrellii now also breeds in adjacent areas of the neighbouring European mainland.

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