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Yellow Wagtail | Motacilla flava

The Yellow 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 Yellow Wagtail (Latin name Motacilla flava) can be found in the 7th Edition of the Roberts Birds of Southern Africa. The Motacilla flava can be quickly identified by its unique Roberts identification number of 714 and the detailed description of this bird is on page 1092. You will find a picture of the Yellow 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 Yellow Wagtail is known in Afrikaans as Geelkwikkie.

The Yellow Wagtail has a height of 16 cms and weighs around 22 gms. The head is coloured yellow while the bill is coloured grey. The Motacilla flava has a white coloured throat, yellow legs and a yellow coloured back. The eyes are brown.

The male Motacilla flava has physical features that are slightly different from the female bird.

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 yellow

Eyes are brown

Bill is grey

Legs are yellow

Throat is white

Back is yellow

Feeding Habits ...

This bird forages for food on the ground

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

The Motacilla flava 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 .

The Motacilla flava forages mainly on the ground or at the base of trees, and low down in the shrubs eating mostly fruits and seeds.

Breeding, Habitat and Nesting Habits ...

The Yellow 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 eggs and they are coloured .

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

Seen in Flocks, Singles or Pairs Normally ...

It is also seen in flocks

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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