Grey Wagtail

Grey wagtail and habitat.

Eastern wagtail an American species.

General and historical notes.


Grey wagtails in captivity.

Grey wagtail with captured insects.

Nest, eggs and young.

The grey wagtail is double brooded and usually commences its first nest in April. They generally select a rocky bank, a hole in a wall of an old water mill and other waterside buildings, or a crevice in a bank, under an overhanging ledge and well concealed by herbage, but it seems there is no rule without exceptions. Seebohm {1885}, remarks he once saw one built in the fork of three stems of an alder,close to the ground,almost overlapping the river. Butler {1900} tells us that he found a nest in Kent { southern England}, from which he flushed the female bird, built in a furrow of a ploughed field near the creek at Kemsley close to Sheppey.

The nest is constructed of root fibre, interwoven with coarse dry grass,cow and horse hair and wool. Lilford says that it " Much resembles that of the Pied wagtail,but is considerably smaller" Feathers are rarely used in the lining it is an open cup shaped structure.

the female lays 4-6 eggs { usually 5} of a speckled buff appearance, the ground colour being creamy, thickly covered with pale brown speckles. Some slender black streaks may occasionally be seen among the pale,close markings.

The female will incubate the eggs for 13-14 days. Both parents feed the young which are ready to leave the nest in a further 14-15 days. The young birds in autumn much resemble the autumn and winter plumage of the adults. Young birds before their first moult,have the grey back strongly tinged with olive and the stripe over the eye indistinct and soiled with yellow.

Update 2016

The latest breeding Bird Survey undertaken by the British Trust For Ornithology revealed that there has been a decline of 32% in breeding bird populations since the Survey first began 20 years ago.

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