Motacilla alba alba Linnaeus, 1758
Common names: White Wagtail [En], Bergeronette grise [Fr], Ballerina nera [It], Lavandera de Yarrell [Es], Trauerbachstelze [De], Rouwkwikstaart [Nl], Λευκοσουσουράδα [Gr], Ak kuyruksallayan [Tu]
Sadrazamköy (Livera, Λιβερα), KYRENIA (Girne, Κερύνεια) ● Cyprus
Conservation status IUCN : LC (Low concern)
Description: This is a slender bird, 16.5–19 cm (6½–7½ in) in length (East Asian subspecies are longer, to 21 cm (8¼ in), with the characteristic long, constantly wagging tail of its genus. The nominate subspecies Motacilla alba alba is basically grey above and white below, with a white face, black cap and black throat.
There are a number of other subspecies, some of which may have arisen because of partial geographical isolation, such as the resident British form, the Pied Wagtail M. a. yarrellii, which now also breeds in adjacent areas of the neighbouring European mainland.
Nine or eleven subspecies are currently recognised.
• M. a. alba, Nominate subspecies: Europe, from the Iberian Peninsula to Ural Mountains, Turkey, the Levant, Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Greenland's east coast. Some migrate to the south of Europe and Africa down as far as Kenya and Malawi.
• M. a. yarrellii, Pied Wagtail: Great Britain and Ireland, birds in the northern part of the range winter in Spain and North Africa, those further south are resident. Has a much blacker back than the nominate race, black of throat continues on side of neck .
• M. a. dukhunensis, Indian Pied Wagtail: West Siberian Plain - east Caspian Sea (part of Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan), winters in the Middle East and India. Sometimes included in alba. The upperparts of this subspecies are paler and more blue-grey than nominate, and has it has a continuous unbroken white panel on wing coverts.
• M. a. persica: North central and western Iran. Intermediate between M. a. dukhunensis and M. a. personata. Often included in alba; appears to be hybrid or intergrade population.
• M. a. subpersonata, African Pied Wagtail: Non-migratory resident of Morocco Moroccan Wagtail. It has more black on the head than the nominate, and resembles a grey-backed, white-throated.
• M. a. personata, Masked Wagtail: Hindu Kush, Tian Shan, Altay Mountains (northern Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Xinjiang). All-black head with a white face mask.
• M. a. alboides: Himalayas and surrounding area. This subspecies has a black back and a lot of black around the head, a white wing panel and white edges on the secondaries and tertials.
• M. a. baicalensis: Russia in Lake Baikal area, Mongolia, Inner Mongolia Resembles M. a. leucopsis but grey back and less white on head and wing.
• M. a. ocularis Siberia, Far Eastern (Russia, eastwards from Central Siberian Plateau) expanding into West Alaska.
• M. a. lugens, Black-backed Wagtail or Kamchatka/Japanese Pied Wagtail: Russia Far East (Primorsky Krai, Khabarovsk Krai), Kamchatka Peninsula, Kuril Islands, Sakhalin, Japan (Hokkaidō, Honshū). Similar to M. a. yarrellii, but has a black eyestripe and white remiges; might have a claim to constitute a distinct species.
• M. a. leucopsis, Amur Wagtail: China, Korean Peninsula, Taiwan, Japan (Ryukyu Islands, Kyūshū) expanding into Japan (Honshū), Southeast Asia, India and Oceania.
Biology: The most conspicuous habit of this species is a near-constant tail wagging, a trait that has given the species, and indeed the genus, its common name.
The diet of White Wagtails varies by location, but terrestrial and aquatic insects and other small invertebrates form the major part of the diet.
White Wagtails are monogamous and defend breeding territories. The breeding season for most is from April to August, with the season starting later further north. Both sexes are responsible for building the nest, with the male responsible for initiating the nest building and the female for finishing the process. The nest is set into a crevice or hole; traditionally in a bank next to a river or ditch, but the species has also adapted to nesting in walls, bridges and buildings. Around 3-8 eggs are laid, with the usual number being 4-6. Both parents incubate the eggs, although the female generally does so for longer and incubates at night. The eggs begin to hatch after 12 days (sometimes as late as 16 days). Both parents feed the chicks until they fledge at around 14 days, and the chicks are fed for another week after fledging.
Distribution: This species breeds throughout Eurasia up to latitudes 75°N, only being absent in the Arctic from areas where the July isotherm is less than 4 °C. It also breeds in the mountains of Morocco and western Alaska. It occupies a wide range of habitats, but is absent from deserts.
White Wagtail is resident in the milder parts of its range such as western Europe and the Mediterranean, but migratory in much of the rest of its range. Northern European breeders winter around the Mediterranean and in tropical and subtropical Africa, and Asiatic birds move to the Middle East, India, and South East Asia. Birds from the North American population also winter in tropical Asia.
Wikipedia, White Wagtail