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17 Amaze-wing Facts About The Cape Wagtail For Kids

Discover Cape wagtail facts from this interesting article.

The Cape wagtail (motacilla capensis), commonly known as Cape wagtails, are chubby chirpy garden birds.  They belong to the super-diverse family of Motacillidae consisting of wagtails and pipits. Mostly found in Southern Africa. There are numerous sub-species of the Motacilla capensis which include the Mountain wagtail, African pied wagtail, Western yellow wagtail, White wagtail, and the common gray wagtail. They belong to the Passerine order which means they are songbirds. Local to open areas, these birds are rather found among human beings than dense jungles. Unlike many garden birds, they tend to nest on the ground. Being cosmopolitan by nature, these birds are interestingly somewhat like humans. They need their own space and their own territory to live in. They dislike external interruption and are known to be so aggressive that they could end up attacking their own shadow, presuming it to be their enemy! Consequent to their solitary nature, they would rather be found hopping around in open ground by themselves than hovering around in a flock. Nonetheless, they reside comfortably around human beings and you can treat them with dried mealworms or seeds.  

Find this intriguing? Check out some more fun bird facts like these Eastern Kingbird and Blue Jay facts.

Cape Wagtail Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Cape wagtail?

The Cape wagtail (motacilla capensis) is a kind of bird belonging to the family of wagtails and pipits.

What class of animal does a Cape wagtail belong to?

Cape wagtails belong to the class of Aves.

How many Cape wagtails are there in the world?

The range of Cape wagtails is spread across 13 species around the world. It is difficult to obtain an estimated count of these birds due to their extremely high rate of occurrence.

Where does a Cape wagtail live?

The Motacilla capensis (Cape wagtail) originates from the African continent. In Southern Africa, it is found in the Western Cape, the  Cape of Good Hope, and South Africa. As for the eastern regions of Africa, they reside in the Republic of Congo, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, and Angola.

What is a Cape wagtail's habitat?

The natural Cape wagtail habitat consists of open areas like meadows, public spaces like gardens, lakes with shallow water. However, in east African regions like Kenya, they can be found above altitudes as high as 6561 ft (2000 m).

Who do Cape wagtails live with?

Cape wagtails are territorial species. The solitary nester is absolutely on guard when it comes to being protective of their own territory. These native African birds are known to be uncooperative even with their own species. They only come together in flocks during the breeding season. Otherwise, they are only known to migrate together in groups once the breeding season is over. These are the only two scenarios of conformity within their species.

How long does a Cape wagtail live?

An average Motacilla capensis (Cape wagtail) will live up to three to four years, however, the longest living cape wagtail was known to live for 11.3 years!

How do they reproduce?

Like all the other birds of the world, Cape wagtails reproduce by laying eggs. A solitary nester by nature, it will nest in a concealed area like a deep hole in a wall or a crater in the bark of a tree. The nest is made by both sexes. Around one to five eggs are laid at a time and they are off-white in color. Unlike many other species, both the sexes incubate their eggs. The incubation period lasts for almost two weeks till the babies hatch. The breeding season usually begins in August and lasts till December. They are also known for fostering birds like pied cuckoos.

What is their conservation status?

Due to its wide range and abundant breeding across the globe, the conservation status of these native African birds is of Least Concern (LC).

Cape Wagtail Fun Facts

What do Cape wagtails look like?

Cape wagtails are medium-sized birds with piercing beaks, spiky tails, broad wings, a dark distinctive blackish breast band on the upper region of their chest, and a white outer tail. They have dark alternating stripes across their wings. The male Cape wagtail (Motacilla capensis) is usually a combination of black and white with gray upperparts, where the underparts are pale. The females are grayish or brownish with pale upperparts. The baby Cape wagtail (Motacilla capensis) looks similar to the females. They are pale gray with yellowish underparts and brownish feathers. Overall, the male Cape wagtail (Motacilla capensis) tends to range in dark colors while their female and juvenile counterparts are pale.  

The natural habitat of Cape wagtails is a lake with a rocky shore.

How cute are they?

Although they are not the brightest species, the wagtail Motacilla capensis (Cape wagtail) is sure to catch your eye with their plump bodies and fluffy feathers. They are pretty chirpy too.

How do they communicate?

They communicate through complex songs since they are songbirds.

How big is a Cape wagtail?

The Cape wagtail is a medium-sized bird with a length of almost 7.9 in (20 cm).

How fast can a Cape wagtail fly?

With a wingspan of 9.8-11 in (25-28 cm), most of the birds from the family of Motacilla capensis (Cape wagtail) are known to have a speed of 25 mph (40.2 kph)  on average. Since they prey on creatures living in water, they often dip and rise during their flights to catch food from the shallow water.

How much does a Cape wagtail weigh?

Ranging around 0.7 oz (20 g), Cape wagtails are medium-sized birds within their own family of Motacillidae. However, they weigh pretty little otherwise.

What are the male and female names of the species?

The Cape wagtail female and the Cape wagtail male are both known as Motacilla capensis Linnaeus or Well's wagtail.

What would you call a baby Cape wagtail?

Like many other birds of the world, Cape wagtails are referred to as nestlings when they are still inside their nests and fledglings when they are freshly out of their nests The fledglings usually are light brown or light gray in color with yellowish underparts.

What do they eat?

Cape wagtails are insectivores and can be found foraging and feeding in the open ground. The Cape wagtail diet consists of insects and invertebrates. They are even found foraging on shallow waters to catch food including tiny fish like anchovies and water crabs. Subsequently, being smaller in size, Cape wagtails are food for other bigger creatures like rats and cats.

Are they poisonous?

No, Cape wagtails are completely harmless.

Would they make a good pet?

Since their natural habitat is in lively areas like parks and they are able to reside comfortably in places inhabited by humans it's safe to say that they will make good pets.

Kidadl Advisory: All pets should only be bought from a reputable source. It is recommended that as a potential pet owner you carry out your own research prior to deciding on your pet of choice. Being a pet owner is very rewarding but it also involves commitment, time and money. Ensure that your pet choice complies with the legislation in your state and/or country. You must never take animals from the wild or disturb their habitat. Please check that the pet you are considering buying is not an endangered species, or listed on the CITES list, and has not been taken from the wild for the pet trade.

Did you know...

Although it prefers an open ground for hunting and feeding on its prey, the Cape wagtail can be spotted foraging near a dump can, eating through the leftover human edibles.

The Western yellow wagtails are the rarest sub-species among the cape wagtails.  

The Pied cuckoo fostered by cape wagtails is known as a brood parasite bird.

The variant that dwells in the swamp varies a bit in terms of appearance. They have a dark spot on their chest rather than the typical breast band in the nominal species. Therefore it can be labeled as a breast spot rather than a breast band.

How do you identify a Cape wagtail?

Cape wagtails are not hard to identify as they are usually gray, brown, or black with a bold breast band but another easy way to identify any cape wagtail is its white outer tail extending from its back.

Is the Cape wagtail endangered?

The Cape wagtail range spreads across three continents; Africa, Europe, and Asia, so their status of endangerment is Least Concern. However, the number of Cape wagtails immigrating into the UK has shrunk a bit in the past years. Overall they are far from being endangered and the only potential threats to this species are global warming and human influence.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our yellow-billed cuckoo facts and blue grosbeak fun facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable cape wagtail coloring pages.

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