Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)

(19 cm.) Long tail; grey upperparts; grey head; white throat; yellow underparts; white eye line

The Grey Wagtail is a member of a small family of long, slender birds with long tails, the wagtails, “moticillidae”. These birds get their English names from their constant habit of “wagging” their tails. The Grey Wagtail is one of the most attractive members of the family with its lovely combination of grey head and back, black wings and yellow under parts.

This bird’s range within China makes up the eastern half of the country with the breeding range in the “dongbei” region. In winter, it can be found throughout much of the southeast.

The Grey Wagtail is almost always found near water, especially rivers and streams. In summer in the north part of its range, it will nest very close to fast running rivers and streams, allowing the parent birds close proximity to their hunting grounds and growing chicks. This close proximity to both a food source and their nest helps ensure the survival of their chicks

This species is fond of small aquatic animals as food including flies, mayflies, crustaceans and mollusks. In winter, these birds have been known to return to exactly the same urban garden as past years.

This species, along with other wagtails are shy and difficult to approach if one wishes to observe this species it is often best to find a suitable location such as a park with a stream and wait quietly and inconspicuously for the birds to come to you.
Photo by Brian Westland

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