White Wagtail

White Wagtail / Motacilla Alba / ذعرة بيضاء

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Status: Very common

The White Wagtail belongs to the Motacillidae family in the Passeriformes order. It is 16-19 cm in size and 16-26 grams in weight. The White Wagtail has a long and slender structure and a contrasting coloring of black and white. The adult has a black crown, throat and nape, while the face and forehead are white. Its tail is long and black with white borders. Its back and upper wings are gray, the abdomen and flanks are white. The wagtail has an energetic walk with a bobbing head that is sometimes synchronized with the constant vertical motion of the tail. Sometimes it bursts into a run chasing after insects, then stops suddenly, wagging its tail in long and quick movements. Its flight is wave-like, while giving a monosyllabic call with every "wave". The White Wagtail is the "ruler of the sidewalks" in cities and inhabited places but when approached by man it will run away. The first wagtails arrive in the beginning of October after a long migration. As their numbers increase, they inhabit all the open sites and are considered to be a sign of winter in this area. The wagtail prefers locations near water such as riverbanks, but has adapted to living alongside man. It can be found in all open habitats such as football fields, public parks, roads and sidewalks. In this area the wagtails live, as couples or alone, in territories that they defend zealously. They may mate with these couples but these are not their mates in the breeding area. Instead of sleeping in their territory the wagtails flock in traditional pre-sleep locations before sunset and search for food. At sunset they fly to the roosting site, usually a large tree, a stand of reeds, or a large roof like a henhouse or a factory. The roosting is accompanied by a lot of calls and "arguments" until everyone finds its place. Half an hour before sunrise, suddenly, all the wagtails will fly off to their territories, or to hunt. The White Wagtail breeds in sites near water like riverbanks, fish ponds and reservoirs. They incubate 4-7 eggs in concealed places such as crevices among stones. The White Wagtail is common throughout most of the Pale arctic area, including Europe, central and north Asia, north India and west Alaska. The northern populations migrate but the southern populations are stable. The European population has decreased, but not to the extent that it is considered endangered. Changes and destruction of its preferred habitat are the major causes of the decrease today, although in the past, the population was hurt by the intensive use of insecticides.

International conservation status: LC

Regional conservation status: LC

Migratory behaviour: Winter