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Yellow Wagtail – which sub-species?

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  • Yellow Wagtail – which sub-species?

    This Yellow Wagtail, photographed in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia on 23rd March 2012, superficially looks like a Sykes’s Wagtail (Motacilla flava beema) or even a Blue-headed Wagtail (Motacilla flava flava) but it has a white throat, whereas beema should have a completely yellow throat.

    Yellow wagtails with white throats, blue heads and supercillium include Iberian Wagtail (Motacilla flava iberiae) and Ashy-headed Wagtail (Motacilla flava cinereocapilla) but the later should have a much less pronounced supercillium and the ranges of these birds do not seem to fit with birds passing through the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia?

    Is this plumage within the range of beema or flava or is this a hybrid and if so what genes do you think are present? Or is it an out of place iberiae and cinereocapilla or something completely different? I have never seen iberiae so am unaware what exactly these birds look like in the field.

    Any suggestions or ideas will be gratefully received as I am struggling to asign a race to this bird.

    Click image for larger version

Name:	Yellow Wagtail ssp.jpg
Views:	1
Size:	129.3 KB
ID:	80039

  • #2
    Hi Jem,
    at first glance it looks like iberiae but that race doesn't 'usually' show the white lower eye ring or the small spot below the eye?

    The way it reads in 'Pipits and Wagtails' is that while these features are not normally present, they may sometime be apparent and iberiae still seems the best fit for your bird.

    Last edited by andyadcock; March 29th, 2012, 02:20 PM.


    • #3
      Hi Jem,

      please have a look at a presumed beema at

      This bird was photographed in the heart of breeding area of beema, in northern Kazakhstan (100 km W of Astana), in June 2008.



      • #4
        2cy males may show a larger amount of white on chin. i think this is a somewhat variable feature although i have to say that both the subject bird and the linked presumed beema (which i think it is due to pale blue head and whitish beard stripe connected to the white chin) are extreme ones. the orriginal/subject bird looks somewhat dark in the ear coverts so might be an intergrade with feldegg (beema x feldegg or flava x feldegg).