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Yellow Wagtail

Yellow Wagtail
Photo Information
Copyright: Peter van Zoest (PeterZ) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2011-04-26
Categories: Birds
Camera: Nikon D300, AF Nikkor 70-300mm f4-5.6 G, Digital RAW
Exposure: f/11, 1/500 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
Date Submitted: 2011-10-03 7:11
Viewed: 3587
Points: 51
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
This Yellow Wagtail is photographed on the island of Lesvos in Greece. In the workshop a Yellow Wagtail in another pose.

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

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.

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 Beringian region are sometimes separated as Eastern Yellow Wagtail (M. tschutschensis).

Currently accepted subspecies:
• M. f. flava Linnaeus, 1758 – Blue-headed Wagtail.
Blue-gray head with white supercilium and malar stripe in males, much washed with buffish green in females.
Breeding: S Scandinavia to France and C European mountain ranges, E to Urals. Winter: sub-Saharan Africa.
• M. f. flavissima Blyth, 1834 – Yellow-crowned Wagtail.
Yellow-green head with a brighter yellow supercilium. Females markedly paler below than males.
Breeding: Britain and English Channel coast. Winter: Africa.
• M. f. thunbergi Billberg, 1828 - Dark-headed Wagtail or Grey-headed Wagtail.
Head dark gray, reaching down to the cheeks, and without white in males; lighter and washed greenish, with vestigial greenish supercilium in females.
Breeding: C and N Scandinavia E to NW Siberia. Winter: E Africa, Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia.
• M. f. iberiae Hartert, 1921 – Iberian Yellow Wagtail.
Like flava, but throat white and gray darker, almost black behind eyes.
Breeding: SE France, Iberia, Maghreb from Tunisia to Banc d'Arguin. Winter: The Gambia to CAR.
• M. f. cinereocapilla Savi, 1831 – Ashy-headed Wagtail.
Like iberiae but supercilium absent or vestigial.
Breeding: Sicily, Sardinia, Italy, Slovenia. Winter: coastal Tunisia and Algeria, Mali to Lake Chad.
• M. f. pygmaea (A. E. Brehm, 1854) – Egyptian Yellow Wagtail.
Similar to cinereocapilla, smaller, less bright.
Nile delta and lower Nile, resident all year.
• M. f. feldegg Michahelles, 1830 – Black-headed Wagtail
Like thunbergi but black cap in males, females like a dull thunbergi male above, very washed-out dirty yellowish below, throat white.
Breeding: Balkans E to Caspian Sea, S to Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan; also Levant. Winter: C Africa from Nigeria to Uganda and S Sudan.
• M. f. lutea (S. G. Gmelin, 1774) – Yellow-headed Wagtail.
Head yellow with green neck in males, females like a somewhat more vivid flava female.
Breeding: Lower Volga to Irtysh River and Lake Zaysan. Winter: Africa and Indian subcontinent.
• M. f. beema (Sykes, 1832) – Sykes' Wagtail.
Like flava but head lighter gray, ears washed white; sexes often similar.
Breeding: North of lutea, E to Ladakh area. Winter: Indian subcontinent, also E Africa and adjacent Arabia.
• M. f. melanogrisea (Homeyer, 1878) – Turkestan Black-headed Wagtail.
Similar to feldegg, but white malar stripe and sometimes green neck.
Breeding: Volga Delta E around Caspian Sea to N Afghanistan. Winter: Pakistan and NW India to W Nepal, possibly also NE Africa.
• M. f. plexa (Thayer & Bangs, 1914) – North Siberian Yellow Wagtail.
Males like thunbergi but ears darker, top of head lighter, vestigial supercilium. Females like dull males.
Breeding: Siberia between Khatanga and Kolyma Rivers. Winter: India, SE Asia.
• M. f. tschutschensis J. F. Gmelin, 1789 – Beringian Yellow Wagtail, Alaska Yellow Wagtail, or Eastern Yellow Wagtail.
Both sexes similar to corresponding flava, but gray of head darker; females often very male-like.
Breeding: around Bering Strait to NW Canada coast. Winter: regions around South China Sea.
• M. f. angarensis (Sushkin, 1925) – South Siberian Yellow Wagtail.
Males like plexa, but supercilium more pronounced.
Breeding: From S Siberia S through W Transbaikalia to N Mongolia. Winter: SE Asia.
• M. f. leucocephala (Przevalski, 1887) – White-headed Yellow Wagtail.
Male like flava, but grey of head very pale, almost white. Female like flava females, but head somewhat darker.
Breeding: NW Mongolia and adjacent PRC and Russia. Winter: probably India.
• M. f. taivana (Swinhoe, 1863) – Green-crowned Yellow Wagtail or Kuril Yellow Wagtail.
Like flavissima but daker above, ears much darker, almost black. Sexes similar.
Breeding: between ranges of plexa and tschutschensis S via Sakhalin to N Hokkaidō. Winter: Myanmar to Taiwan, S to Wallacea.
• M. f. macronyx (Stresemann, 1920) – Southeast Siberian Yellow Wagtail.
Males like thunbergi but brighter and more strongly marked overall. Female like in thunbergi but no supercilium.
Breeding: SE Transbaikalia E to coast, S to Manchuria. Winter: NW of South China Sea.
• M. f. simillima Hartert, 1905 – Bering Sea Yellow Wagtail or Short-tailed Grey-headed Wagtail.
Both sexes similar to corresponding flava, but supercilium usually less pronounced.
Breeding: Kamchatka and Bering Sea islands, possibly to Aleuts. Winter: SE Asia S to N Australia.

Nominate Blue-headed Wagtail and Yellow Wagtail form a narrow hybrid zone in northern France. Birds from this zone vary in appearance, but one type, which resembles nominate Blue-headed Wagtail (except that the blue tones to the head are paler and more mauve and the white of the head is more extensive, particularly on the throat, ear-coverts, and supercilium) is colloquially referred to as Channel Wagtail.

Source: Wikipedia

PeakXV, Silvio2006, joska, marius-secan, maaciejka, Pitoncle, eqshannon, bungbing, BREARD, ellis49, anel, pegos, Dis. Ac. has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To ana974: sharpnessPeterZ 1 10-04 09:24
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Critiques [Translate]

Hi Peter,

Very nice & natural composition of this Yellow Wagtail. I really like the low pov & how this image illustrates it's blending in with the environment. Sharp focus, choice light & lovely colours!



hallo Peter
super opname met veel details
mooie heldere kleuren
leuke foto ,ik heb er ook zo veel gezien ze blijven apart
groetjes lou

Ciao Peter, great capture of lovely bird in nice pose, beautiful natural ambientation, wonderful colors, splendid sharpness and fine details, very well done my friend, ciao Silvio

  • Great 
  • joska Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 806 W: 0 N: 4092] (22535)
  • [2011-10-03 7:54]

Hi Peter,
Excellent photo of this Yellow Wagtail, male, in Breeding Plumage. Excellent photo presentation, useful too, TFS!

Hello Peter,
Splendid Yellow Wagtail. I found very rarely this beautyfull bird.
The colors, focus and details are excellent.
Thanks for sharing!

Hi Peter,
very good photo of this nice bird. Amazing colours. Excellent point of view. Great sharpness.
Thanks for sharing,

  • Great 
  • lousat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6595 W: 89 N: 15659] (65489)
  • [2011-10-03 8:41]

Hi Peter,great capture and nice composition whit this rich background,i like the high saturation and the great details too,not easy a pic like that!Thanks for share,have a nice evening,Luciano.

Bonjour Peter,
Agréable valorisation du sujet dans son environnement.
A bientôt sur TN pour de nouvelles aventures.

Hi Peter,

Beautiful yellow colored bird captured with fine details in its natural habitat.
Taken from a nice POV & good natural light. The workshop pic is also nice. Well done & TFS.

Excellent composition, good to see the landscape. Good detail and colour. A lovely bird. regards yiannis

Hello Peter
Fine compozition and colors,beautiful species.
Best regards

The yellow of the aviary sticks out well against the normally hard grasses. This has an earth tone quality that I like so much, especially in your images.. Where you have much practical experience.

Ciao Peter. Very good colours and lovely compo.


  • Great 
  • siggi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3097 W: 109 N: 12399] (52850)
  • [2011-10-03 12:49]

Hello Peter,
beautiful shot, sharp image with good details, liked the colours & the contrast very much, fine composition.Best regards Siggi

Hello Peter,
Lovely captured of this Yellow Wagtail with nice pose, great natural surrounding, beautiful natural colours and good sharpness,
Thanks for sharing and have a goodnight,
Best Regards,

Hello Peter
Beautiful photo with very good composition and wonderful colours.

  • Great 
  • BREARD Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 106 W: 1 N: 419] (2141)
  • [2011-10-03 22:40]

Bonjour Peter,
Belle image très bien composée.
un Oiseau avec de jolies couleurs et excellente netteté.

Hi Peter,
I hope all is well.
This is nice picture of the yellow wagtail, a species that can look like almost any shape. :-) There are quite a number of subspecies.
The picture is nicely composed with good POV, nice natural colours and good sharpness.
I hope to see some in Cyprus when I go there about 14 days and will stay almost 6 months

Best Regards

  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2011-10-04 1:54]

Hello Peter,
How many subspecies..you have to have good eyes to distinguish them all! We have also some around but they aren't so yellow as your Greek model. Good decentred composition and a fine natural environment.
Thanks for the complete note too and kind regards

Hi Peter, Very nice capture of this fine species my friend, splendid exposure, lovely colours but lacks a little in the sharpness department hmmm, however a pleasing picture here Peter and well done,
Best Regards,


  • Great 
  • pegos Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 222 W: 0 N: 356] (1982)
  • [2011-10-04 8:02]

Very beautiful composition, Peter!
Excellent point of view, sharpness and detail. Splendid colours and light.
Well done!

Lovely capture, dear Peter, and I don´t see how Pauly found "lacks of sharpness"...I think your pic is very nice and very sharp. Bravo!
Regards from,

PS: thanks for visiting my gallery! I appreciated it!

Hello Peter,
This is a good image of this beautiful Yellow Wagtail. I like the details, colours and POV. Well done!

Hi Peter,
nice bird species, good POV
TFS, Ferran

Hallo Peter,

een mooi plaat van deze gele kwikstaart, weet niet welke zo maar denk de grote gele.
Deze heb ik nog in twenthe kunnen fotograferen.
God laag standpunt en scherpte.
Mooie verzadige kleuren.


  • Great 
  • tuslaw Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2754 W: 282 N: 4931] (19883)
  • [2011-10-05 19:05]

Hello Peter, this is a new one for me.
What a beautifully colored bird with long slender body features. Looks like he is proudly posing for you saying..go ahead buddy, shoot away all you want.
Attractive composition with fine detail and well saturated colors. Great job!!

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