Motacilla flava flava Linnaeus, 1758 ♂
Common names: (Western) Yellow Wagtail, Blue-headed Wagtail [En], Bergeronnette printanière [Fr], Gele Kwikstaart [Nl], Wiesenschafstelze [De], Cutrettola comune [It], Lavandera boyera [Es], Κιτρινοσουσουράδα [Gr], Sarı kuyruksallayan [Tu]
IUCN Status: LC (Least Concern)
Kalloni, LESVOS ● Greece
Description: On the male Motacilla flava flava, the crown, nape and ear coverts are pale-grey, paler than on M. f. thunbergi. The ear coverts are grey not blackish; the white supercilium is usually well-defined but occasionally absent. The chin and is white, rare yellow. There is no pale eye-ring.
10 subspecies of Motacilla flava are recorded:
• M. f. flavissima – Britain and coastal Europe
• M. f. lutea (or Motacilla lutea) – sw Russia to nw and nc Kazakhstan
• M. f. flava – n and c Europe to the Ural Mts.
• M. f. beema – sw Siberia and ne Kazakhstan to w Himalayas
• M. f. iberiae – Iberian Pen., sw France and nw Africa
• M. f. cinereocapilla – Italy, Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia and Slovenia
• M. f. pygmaea – Egypt
• M. f. leucocephala – nw Mongolia, nw China and sc Siberia
• M. f. feldegg (or Motacilla feldegg) – the Balkans and Turkey to Iran and Afghanistan
• M. f. thunbergi – n Europe to nw Siberia
Biology: It is a gregarious species that forms large overnight roosts in trees, swamps and tall grass. During the day the yellow wagtail defends a small feeding territory from other individuals. It picks small invertebrates from the ground or water surface, but may also make short flights to take prey from the air or follow grazing livestock to take insects stirred up as they feed.
The yellow wagtail breeds between April and August, but the exact timing of breeding varies with location. It is monogamous, nesting in solitary pairs which cooperate to defend a territory around the nesting site. The nest is a simple grassy cup lined with hair that is built by the female and placed on the ground in a shallow scrape. Between 4 and 6 eggs are laid¸ and are incubated by both adults for 11 to 13 days. The chicks are fed by both adults for the 11 to 14 days that they are in the nest and for several weeks after fledging.
Habitat: The yellow wagtail occurs in a variety of damp or wet habitats with low vegetation, from rushy pastures, meadows, hay fields and marshes to damp steppe and grassy tundra. Outside of the breeding season it is also found in cultivated areas. The yellow wagtail typically forages in damp grassland and on relatively bare open ground at edges of rivers, lakes and wetlands, but also feeds in dry grassland and in fields of cereal crops.
Distribution: Those populations breeding in western Europe winter in northwest and sub-Saharan Africa, eastern European breeding populations winter in northeast Africa and West Asia.
Birds of Kazakhstan
BirdLife International, 2017. Motacilla flava, The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.