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Cape Wagtail | Motacilla capensis

The Cape Wagtail is a Southern African bird that belongs to the Motacillidae bird family group which includes birds such as Wagtails, Longclaws, Pipits.

The description for the Cape Wagtail (Latin name Motacilla capensis) can be found in the 7th Edition of the Roberts Birds of Southern Africa. The Motacilla capensis can be quickly identified by its unique Roberts identification number of 713 and the detailed description of this bird is on page 1091. You will find a picture of the Cape Wagtail on page 1073.

NOTE: The reference for the information following is "Roberts Birds of Southern Africa", 7th Edition*. This edition contained a number of taxonomic changes as well as changes to English names used traditionally and in earlier editions of most bird books in South Africa. The following paragraph notes such changes if any.

Neither the Latin nor the Engish name for this bird has been affected by recent nomenclature modifications ? these changes have been incorporated into Robert's 7th Edition where appropriate.

The Cape Wagtail is known in Afrikaans as Gewone Kwikkie.

The Cape Wagtail has a height of 20 cms and weighs around 20 gms. The head is coloured olive while the bill is coloured black. The Motacilla capensis has a white coloured throat, brown legs and a brown coloured back. The eyes are brown.

Take note of the bird's main distinguishing features such as colour, size and leg length relative to the body size of the bird. Colours of a bird's body parts can be helpful. Be aware what may appear brown to one person is described in Roberts Birds using some other word ... for example brown, black. See colours used in Roberts.

Head is olive

Eyes are brown

Bill is black

Legs are brown

Throat is white

Back is brown

Feeding Habits ...

This bird forages for food on the ground

The Cape Wagtail is usually seen hunting for food within the tree foliage

The Motacilla capensis attacks its prey aerially and feeds on wing or takes the prey to a secluded venue where it is killed, torn into small pieces and eaten

This bird eats insects such as butterflies, bees, wasps, locusts and ants. These invertebrates are usually hawked aerially, killed and then eaten .

Breeding, Habitat and Nesting Habits ...

The Cape Wagtail is a monogamous bird which means that the bird finds and breeds with one partner for the rest of its life. The bird lays between 1 to 5 eggs and they are coloured grey.

The bird builds its nest within a tree cavity just a few meters above the ground. The hole in the tree is normally reused in the next nesting season.

The Cape Wagtail is mainly found in light and densely wooded forests, where there are Mopane trees.

The bird is mainly found in the Savanna grasslands where it breeds and feeds.

The Cape Wagtail is found in the Southern African wetlands, riverine forests and moist grasslands.

The bird is at home in riverine forests and close to water bodies such as lakes, dams and streams

This bird is very common in most of the Southern African Forests

Seen in Flocks, Singles or Pairs Normally ...

The Cape Wagtail is mainly seen singly or in pairs in the wild.

The reference for the information following is "Roberts Birds of Southern Africa", 7th Edition * edited by PAR Hockey, WRJ Dean and PG Ryan, published by "The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund."

copyright: Tony Roocroft +27-11-454-0105

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