Saturday, 14 May 2016

Bird of the week - Pied wagtail

These two pied wagtails have been very frequent visitors to the garden in the past three or four weeks so I presume they will nest in the garden or nearby.  They do use open-fronted nest boxes so I'll have to keep an eye out to see if they are in one of mine.  The female has been here less over the past week so I suspect she may already be sitting on eggs.

The male bird is in his finest clerical black and white.

The female is similarly coloured but with a grey back.

The pied wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii) is a fairly common bird with about 1m birds in the UK in the summer.

Pied wagtails tend to move south in the winter and some migrate to Europe or even North Africa.

Thomas Bewick called it the black and white water wagtail.  He wrote "The Wagtail is said by some authors to migrate into other climates about the end of October; with us it is known to change its quarters as the winter approaches, from north to south.  Its note is small and insignificant, but frequently repeated, especially while on the wing.".  Here is his engraving from A History of British Birds published in 1797.

Listen to the BBC Radio 4 Tweet of the Day on pied wagtail here.


  1. What a gorgeous bird. Looks like an ad from a high fashion magazine.

  2. Wonderful photographs. Like botanical illustration but for birds, with every view so full of character and different.