Grey Wagtail

Scientific name: Motacilla cinerea

Did you know: The Grey Wagtail is a partial migrant, with some individuals journeying to warmer climates in North Africa during autumn!

What Do Grey Wagtails Look Like? (how to identify them)

The Grey Wagtail is a bird of delightful contrasts. With slate grey-coloured upperparts and a bright yellow under-tail, it’s far more colourful than its name implies. 

Its tail is notably longer than its cousins, the Yellow and Pied Wagtails. Over the last 150 years, Grey Wagtails have expanded their range into the English lowlands, bringing a splash of colour to various landscapes.

Differences Between Male And Female Grey Wagtails

Male Grey Wagtails, especially during the breeding season, display a striking black throat. This feature is absent in females, making it a useful marker for birdwatchers to identify the gender of these charming birds.

What Do Grey Wagtails Eat?

Grey Wagtails primarily dine on a diet of insects. Agile and quick, they are often seen darting around water bodies, capturing their prey with finesse.

Where Do Grey Wagtails Live? (inc. migration info)

Grey Wagtails have a strong affinity for running water, often nesting near streams, although they can adapt to modern structures nearby. Outside the breeding season, they are also found around coasts, lakes, and similar watery habitats.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Grey Wagtails)

Grey Wagtails are known for their sharp, distinctive calls, often heard in flight. Their vocalisations are a charming aspect of their presence along Britain’s waterways.

Fun Grey Wagtail Facts (kid friendly)

  • Grey Wagtails can wag their tails up to 100 times a minute.
  • They have a special dance to attract their mates.
  • Despite their name, they have bright yellow feathers.
  • They love to eat insects, especially midges and ants.
  • In winter, some Grey Wagtails travel as far as North Africa.
  • They build nests close to water, often on riverbanks.
  • Grey Wagtails can fly up to 20 miles per hour.
  • They are known for their cheerful chirping sounds.
  • Juvenile Grey Wagtails have a shorter tail than adults.
  • They can be seen near water all year round in the UK.

Grey Wagtail Images

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Male
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Female
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Hatchling
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Nestling
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Chick
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Fledgling
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Juvenile

Facts About The Grey Wagtail

Diet: Insects
Bird Family: Pipits and wagtails
Length: 18-19cm
Wingspan: 25-27cm
Weight: 14-22g
Scientific Name: Motacilla cinerea

The Grey Wagtail Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December