openair's picture

Juvenile Grey Wagtail?

Observed: 16th February 2013 By: openairopenair’s reputation in Birds
late Jan to mid Feb 2013 649 (Large)
late Jan to mid Feb 2013 650 (Large)

Beautiful bird with a long thin tail and very distinctive yellow underneath at rear. Seen in a church yard in York. Is this a female as it does not have the black bib, or does thhe black bib only appear when they are breeding? At what age to grey wagtails develop adult plumage?

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ophrys's picture


Wagtails have quite a complex moult, adults undergoing a full moult post-breeding and a partial moult pre-breeding. Young birds have two partial moults in their first year. You can only really talk about juvenile plumage in the summer of the bird's birth until its partial autumn moult...quite a short period; then it has mostly adult feathers, but some retained juvenile feathers, through to the spring, when it moults some feather tracts again. The black throat is achieved in breeding plumage, as you suspected. All in all, they can be tricky to age/sex confidently in the winter.


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