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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 12, 2021

Western Yellow Wagtail: 21 Facts You Won't Believe!

Western yellow wagtail facts tell us that this species is seen in Europe and Asia.

There are 13 species of wagtails in the world. The western yellow wagtail is a bird of the world from the same family. The western yellow wagtail is known by its scientific name Motacilla flava. They are classified as a Least Concern species by the International Union For Conservation Of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

A similar bird species to the yellow wagtail (Motacilla flava) is the eastern yellow wagtail which is another species from the same family. A western yellow wagtail (Motacilla flava) is seen primarily in grasslands, marshes, and lakes. The western yellow wagtail is a carnivorous bird species and feeds primarily on spiders and insects available within its habitat range. They are migratory birds and migrates to Sub-Saharan Africa during winters compared to the eastern yellow wagtail that migrates to Asia. They both migrate through the day and rest by night.

For more relatable content, check out mockingbird and hummingbird facts.

Western Yellow Wagtail Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a western yellow wagtail?

The western yellow wagtail are birds of the world that belong to the kingdom Animalia and order Passeriformes.

What class of animal does a western yellow wagtail belong to?

Western yellow wagtails belong to the class Aves, the family Motacillidae, and the genus Motacilla.

How many western yellow wagtails are there in the world?

The western yellow wagtail global population is estimated at 64,000,000-107,000,000 mature individuals. They are classified as a Least Concern species and are widely seen within their habitat range.

Where does a western yellow wagtail live?

A western yellow wagtail lives in grasslands, marshes, and lakes. It was once a rare breeding species in Northern Ireland. These bright yellow birds are seen in western Europe and Asia. The western yellow wagtail subspecies may spend their winter together in the region they migrate to.  

What is a western yellow wagtail's habitat?

The western yellow wagtail habitat constitutes grasslands, marshes, and lakes. They mostly forage for food on open grounds. When they migrate during winter, they stay close to cattle animals to find disturbed insects. They move back during the breeding season.

Who do western yellow wagtails live with?

Western yellow wagtails are seldom spotted alone because they usually live together in groups. They migrate in flocks. A western yellow wagtail nest in solitary pairs during the breeding season and are monogamous.

How long does a western yellow wagtail live?

The western yellow wagtail's exact lifespan is not evaluated. The maximum age recorded in the wagtail subspecies is 11 years and three months, which was a pied wagtail.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding season for adult birds occurs from April to August. They are monogamous birds and nest solitarily. Females build their nests on the ground lined with a grassy cup lined with animal hair. The nests are built by females near the ground, usually a grassy cup lined with animal hair. Males and females mate and reproduce sexually. Breeding females lay four to six eggs. The eggs are mostly white with brownish markings and incubation lasts 10-13 days. Females are more involved in raising the young compared to males. Fledging of the young occurs 10-14 days post-hatching. Juveniles leave their nests once they fledge and are capable of living independently.

What is their conservation status?

Western yellow wagtails are classified as a Least Concern species by the IUCN red list of threatened species.

Western Yellow Wagtail Fun Facts

What do western yellow wagtails look like?

Western yellow wagtails are small-sized birds. Their upperparts are greenish to olive-brown, and their underparts are yellow in color. They have light-colored tail feathers and their tail is mostly pointed. When moving, they exhibit a tail wagging motion.  The pattern on their head varies from the one on their body. They have a small blue-gray head and bill and the bill is usually dark gray to black. Their eyes are dark brown and their legs and feet are blackish. The female tends to be duller in color compared to males. Differences in coloration, pattern, or size between the male and female primarily occur due to sexual dimorphism.

Western yellow wagtails have greenish to olive-brown upperparts with yellow underparts and a blue-gray head.

How cute are they?

The western yellow wagtail is an extremely cute and adorable bird. The western yellow wagtail is a small-sized bird with a small head. It is primarily known for wagging its tail and this bird is best observed in its natural habitat. There is a total of four subspecies of wagtails seen in North America, including the gray wagtail and the white wagtail.  

How do they communicate?

Western yellow wagtail birds communicate via various songs as well as calls. Primarily they give a 'pseet' kind of sound during flight or a longer 'swee-eep' rising sometimes towards the end. Their songs include a repetition of the calls interspersed with warbling notes given during their fluttering flight display 'sriii-srriit'. The intensity of calls may vary among different species.

How big is a western yellow wagtail?

Western yellow wagtail birds are  6.3-6.7 in (16-17 cm) long which is three times bigger than verdin birds that are 4.3 in (11 cm) long and similar-looking small birds found in the North American range.

How fast can a western yellow wagtail fly?

The western yellow wagtail bird's exact flying speed is not evaluated. Since they are migratory birds, they mostly will have a sustained flight speed helping them to travel long distances.  

How much does a western yellow wagtail weigh?

A male western yellow wagtail bird weighs 0.03-0.06 lb (12-26 g) and a female bird weighs 0.02-0.05 lb (11-22.5 g). The largest wagtail species is the white-browed wagtail.  

What are the male and female names of the species?

Male and female wagtails are not known differently. The female western yellow wagtail is slightly duller in coloration and pattern, and the male is brightly colored. They also differ in reproductive functions.

What would you call a baby western yellow wagtail?

A baby western yellow wagtail is called a chick. The young chick is completely dependent on its parents in the first few weeks, specifically the mother. Juveniles resemble the female in coloration and pattern initially.

What do they eat?

The western yellow wagtail is a carnivore. They feed primarily on spiders and other insects, including worms, grasshoppers, and beetles in their habitat range.

Are they dangerous?

No, this bird species poses no threat to human beings and their instant response to any danger is their flight instinct. They face no major threats in the wild apart from carnivorous reptiles or birds who feed on smaller bird species.

Would they make a good pet?

No, these are not ideal pets. It's best to observe them in their natural habitat. If you wish to adopt pet birds, you should consider parrots or parakeets as they are sociable and friendly.

Did you know...

Even birds that don't fly migrate! The emu, an Australian bird, travels on foot to find food similar to penguins who migrate via swimming.

The largest bird in the world is an ostrich, and the smallest bird in the world is a bee hummingbird.  

How many types of wagtails are there?

There are 13 species of wagtails in the world. These include the eastern yellow wagtails, grey wagtails, and Japanese wagtails. All wagtails are small birds and vary in coloration. The closest wagtail to western yellow wagtails is the eastern yellow wagtail. A similar bird species to the yellow wagtail (Motacilla flava) is the eastern yellow wagtail which is another species from the same family. The eastern vs. western yellow wagtail are separated by the regions they are seen in. The eastern yellow wagtail is seen in eastern Europe, while the western yellow wagtail is seen in western Europe and Asia. The western yellow wagtail (Motacilla flava) is seen primarily in grasslands, marshes, and lakes.

Where do yellow wagtails migrate to?

Western yellow wagtails migrate to Sub-Saharan Africa, while eastern yellow wagtails migrate to Asia. They return back when the climatic conditions change. Most wagtails are migratory birds, meaning it is difficult to spot them in the same region at all times like sedentary birds.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these Hawaiian hawk facts and saker falcon facts for kids.

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

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