Comprehensive Guide to selected species of:
Birds of the Boreal Forest « back to Guide
Eastern Yellow Wagtail Motacilla tschutschensis
Family: Wagtails and Pipits, Motacillidae
Audio: Martyn Stewart, © Naturesound.org
An estimated 5% of the species' North American breeding range lies within the Boreal Forest.
Description 6 1/2" (17 cm). Small and dainty; tail makes up half its total length. Adult olive-gray above, bright yellow below. White eye stripe, wing bars, and outer tail feathers, which flash in flight. Immatures are olive-gray above, with buff underparts and eye stripe; dusky throat collar. Bobs its tail constantly.
Habitat Willow tundra.
Nesting 4-7 buff or greenish eggs, heavily mottled and spotted, usually hidden in a sheltered place on the ground.
Voice Rarely sings, but often utters a call: tsweep. Alarm note sounds like ple-ple-ple.
Range Breeds in northern and western Alaska and Aleutians. Winters in Old World. Also in Eurasia.
Discussion Although its range in North America is limited, the Yellow Wagtail is easy to locate during its short Arctic breeding season. When a ground predator or a human appears, several males gather, fly up, and circle the intruder.