SomersetWanderer's picture

Which Wagtail?

Observed: 20th April 2010 By: SomersetWandererSomersetWanderer’s reputation in BirdsSomersetWanderer’s reputation in BirdsSomersetWanderer’s reputation in BirdsSomersetWanderer’s reputation in Birds
Which Wagtail.jpg

Was wondering if this was a White Wagtail - help please.

Species interactions

No interactions present.


Milvus's picture

Certainly looks like a 'White

Certainly looks like a 'White Wag.' to me - and, in relation to your comment on moult, it looks like a first summer bird (i.e. hatched in 2009). I say this as teh photograph shows brown-tinged flight feathers (contrasting with the blacker-toned centres of the terials) and also some contrast in the colour of the greater coverts (between the inner part of the folded wing and its outer portion) - which make up the dark, white-fringed, ‘wing-bar' of the bird.

Dapper and dainty, and a spring-time treat. Much under-valued and over-looked (I suspect).

sirhandle's picture

Same Latin name?

Is it me or has both the Pied Wagtail and the White Wagtail got the same Latin name? I thought the whole process of giving Latin names was to be certain about sub-species?

Just go out there and do it!!!

RoyW's picture

Yes - because they're one species

The latin name that has been given above only identifies the species "White Wagtail, Montacilla alba". Using this name (including calling the bird a White Wagtail) is correct even if it is the pied British race*.
To differentiate between the subspecies a third name has to be added;
White Wagtail (when referring specifically to the continental race) becomes Montacilla alba alba.
Pied Wagtail (which refers only to the race typically found in Britain & Ireland) is Montacilla alba yarrellii.

*The species is generally referred to as White Wagtail except in areas where specific subspecies have been given other names.
Calling all Pied Wagtails you see 'White Wagtails' will probably cause a lot of confusion though - it's technically correct, but in Britain we tend to only use the name 'White Wagtail' when we mean continental birds (apologies if this is confusing!).

sirhandle's picture

Thanks Roy and not confusing

Thanks Roy and not confusing at all. I didn't know pied wagtail was a British variant of the white wagtail so I learnt something new. (should have took more notice of my classics teacher me thinks!).

Just go out there and do it!!!