Motacilla cinerea (Grey wagtail) 

Gryskwikkie [Afrikaans]; Grote gele kwikstaart [Dutch]; Bergeronnette des ruisseaux [French]; Gebirgstelze [German]; Alvéola-cinzenta [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Motacillidae > Genus: Motacilla

Motacilla cinerea (Grey wagtail)   

Grey wagtail, Botswana. [photo Mike Grimes ©]


Distribution and habitat

Breeds across western Europe through Turkey, Afghanistan and Iran to central Asia; in the non-breeding season most of these populations head south to Arabia, India, south-east Asia and north-east Africa, from Sudan to northern Tanzania. It is a vagrant to many other parts of Africa, including southern Africa, such as in Zimbabwe's eastern highlands and adjacent Mozambique, parts of South Africa, west-central Namibia, the Caprivi Strip and eastern Botswana. It generally prefers vegetation along streams and rivers (its primary breeding habitat), but it may also occur in sewage works, forest tracks and even urban areas.

Distribution of Grey wagtail in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common).


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 



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