Boreal Birds
300+ species, billions of birds rely on Canada's boreal forest as critical breeding grounds
© Francesco Veronesi/Wikimedia Commons (CC 2.0)

Yellow Wagtail

Eastern Yellow Wagtail
Motacilla tschutschensis
Perching Birds | Family: Wagtails and Pipits, Motacillidae

An estimated 5% of the species' North American breeding range lies within the Boreal Forest.

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Overview

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.

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.

Voice

Rarely sings, but often utters a call: tsweep. Alarm note sounds like ple-ple-ple.

Nesting

4-7 buff or greenish eggs, heavily mottled and spotted, usually hidden in a sheltered place on the ground.

Habitat

Willow tundra.

Range/Migration

Breeds in northern and western Alaska and Aleutians. Winters in Old World. Also in Eurasia.