Blue-headed Wagtail

Blue-headed Wagtail, Gele Kwikstaart, Schafstelze, Alvéola-amarela, Lavandera Boyera

Spotted in the Alentejo region of Portugal.       Blue-headed Wagtail sound

The Blue-headed Wagtail, Motacilla flava, is a small passerine in the wagtail family Motacillidae, which also includes the pipits and longclaws.

Blue-headed Wagtail Birding Portugal
Blue-headed Wagtail

More photos at the bottom of this page:

This species breeds in much of temperate Europe and Asia and has a foothold in North America in Alaska. It is resident in the milder parts of its range, such as western Europe, but northern and eastern populations migrate to Africa and south Asia. The Beringian population winters further down the Pacific coast.

Immature Blue-headed Wagtail (M. f. flava)Vagrant individuals occur around the winter quarters at migration time. For example, on Palau in Micronesia migrant flocks of this species – apparently of the Bering Sea Yellow Wagtail, and including many adult males – are regularly seen, while further north on the Marianas, only the occasional stray individual – usually females or immatures as it seems – is encountered.

It is a slender 15–16 cm long bird, with the characteristic long, constantly wagging tail of its genus. It is the shortest tailed of the European wagtails. The breeding adult male is basically olive above and yellow below. In other plumages, the yellow may be diluted by white. The heads of breeding males come in a variety of colours and patterns depending on subspecies.

The call is a characteristic high-pitched jeet.

This insectivorous bird inhabits open country near water, such as wet meadows. It nests in tussocks, laying 4-8 speckled eggs.

This species’ systematics and phylogeny is extremely confusing. Literally dozens of subspecies have been described at one time or another, and some 15-20 are currently considered valid depending on which author reviews them. In addition, the Citrine Wagtail (M. citreola) forms a cryptic species complex with this bird both taxa as conventionally delimited are paraphyletic in respect to each other. The populations of the Berinigian region are sometimes separated as Eastern Yellow Wagtail (M. tschutschensis).

Blue-headed Wagtail Birding Portugal
Blue-headed Wagtail
Blue-headed Wagtail Birding Portugal
Blue-headed Wagtail
Blue-headed Wagtail Birding Portugal
Blue-headed Wagtail
Blue-headed Wagtail Birding Portugal
Blue-headed Wagtail
Blue-headed Wagtail Birding Portugal
Blue-headed Wagtail

Other synonyms:

Afrikaans: Geelkwikkie
Asturian: Bruxa Mariella, Llindiadora
Breton: Ar gannerez relen penn glas
Catalan: Cuereta groga, Cuereta groga alemanya, Xàtxero groc
Catalan (Balears): Xàtxero groc
Welsh: Siglen felen
Danish: Gul Vipstjert
German: Englische Schafstelze, Schafstelze, Schafstelze-flava
English: Blue-headed Wagtail, Blue-headed Yellow Wagtail, Yellow wagtail
Esperanto: flava motacilo
Spanish: Lavandera Boyera, Lavandera Boyera centroeuropea
Spanish (Honduras): Bisbita acuática
Spanish (Mexico): Bisbita Americana
Estonian: Hänilane
Basque: Lare-buztanikara
Finnish: Keltavästäräkki
Faroese: Gulerla
French: Bergeronnette printanière, Bergeronnette printanière type
Frisian: Giel Boumantsje
Irish: Glasóg cheannghorm
Gaelic: Breac Buidhe
Galician: Lavandeira marela
Manx: Skibbag Wuigh
Croatian: Žuta Pastirica
Indonesian: Entut kerbau
Icelandic: Gulerla
Italian: Cutrettola
Japanese: tsumenagasekirei
Cornish: Stenor penglas
Latin: Motacilla flava, Motacilla flava flava
Malay: Kedidi Kuning
Maltese: Isfar
Dutch: Gele Kwikstaart
Norwegian: Gulerle, Sørlig gulerle
Polish: Siwerniak
Portuguese: Alvéola-amarela
Romansh: Ballacua da pastgira
Sardinian: Madischedda
Scots: Breac buidhe
Northern Sami: Fiskesbeštor
Slovak: Trasochvost žltý
Slovenian: rumena pastirica
Albanian: Bishtatundësi i verdhë
Serbian: žuta pliska
Swedish: Gulärla
Swahili: Tikisa Njano
Vietnamese: Chìa vôi vàng

Travel Birdwatching Holiday Alentejo, Vacation Portugal for birders to see birds on your trip.  

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Guided Birdwatching in the Alentejo region of Portugal