1174. Motacilla cinerea caspica

(1174) Motacilla cinerea caspica.

The Eastern Grey Wagtail.

Parus caspicus Gmelin, Reise Russ., iii. p. 104, pi. xx, tig. 2 (1774) (Caspian Sea). Motacilla melanope. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 293.

Vernacular names. Mudi-tippudu-jitta (Tel.).

Description. - Male in Summer. Forehead to lower back, scapulars and lesser wing-coverts slaty-grey, tinged faintly with olive ; rump and upper tail-coverts greenish-yellow; three middle pairs of tail-feathers black, the next two pairs white with black outer webs and a black edge to the inner web, outermost pair all white with black shafts; lores dark grey-brown ; cheeks and ear-coverts dark grey; a broad white supercilium to the nape and a broad white moustachial stripe; median, greater coverts and quills dark brown edged with yellowish-white; the inner secondaries white at the base, this generally showing as a white wing-patch ; chin, throat and upper breast black, showing narrow white fringes when freshly moulted; lower plumage bright yellow, brightest on the vent and under tail-coverts ; axillaries and under wing-coverts grey and white.

Colours of soft parts. Iris brown; bill horny-brown to almost black, but always a little paler at the base; legs and feet fleshy-grey to fleshy-horny.

Measurements. Total length about 200 mm.; wing 78 to 86 mm.; tail 67 to 73 mm.; tarsus 23 to 24 mm.; culmen about 11 to 12 mm.

Female in Summer. Superciliary and moustachial stripes less pure white and smaller ; the black of the chin, throat and breast is much mottled with white and the lower parts, especially the breast, are less bright and pure yellow.

Male in Winter has the superciliary and moustachial stripes less in extent; the chin, throat and upper breast are white tinged with buff, especially on the breast; the lower breast is buffy-yellow.

Young birds are like the adult but have the rump and upper tail-coverts duller and tinged with buff; chin, throat and breast buff, darkest on the breast.

Nestling. Down golden-buff (Witherby, M. c. cinerea).

Distribution. Breeding from the Urals to Kamschatka and South to the Safed Koh and the Himalayas. In Winter the whole of India and Ceylon, Burma, Assam, Andamans, Malay-Peninsula.

Nidification. The Eastern Grey Wagtail breeds from the end of April to the end of July from 5,000 up to 10,000 or 12,000 feet, most often between 7,000 and 9,000 feet. The nest is made of grass or grass and roots, sometimes much mixed with white wool and sometimes wholly of this material. The lining is of hair or wool or the two mixed. It is often placed, like that of Hodgson's Pied Wagtail, under a stone or fallen tree-trunk in small islands in rivers but it also makes use of banks of rivers and sometimes it builds the nest in long grass or under a thick bush. The eggs number four to six and are much more uniform in appearance than the eggs of the White and Pied Wagtails. The ground-colour varies from pale to warm yellowish-grey, often with greenish, rarely with a reddish tinge. The markings consist of freckles of pale reddish-brown, scattered over the whole surface or in a ring or cap at the larger end. One hundred eggs average 19.0 x 14.2 mm.: maxima 20.6 x 13.7 and 18.5 x 15.8 mm.; minima 17.0 x 13.0 and 17.1 x 12.9 mm. In India the full clutch is four or five but in the North they lay six or even seven eggs.

Habits. This Wagtail is in habits half-way between the White Wagtails and the more strictly marsh and wet meadow-land Wagtails of the flava and feldegg groups. They haunt both rivers and open country and are also sometimes found on streams running through forest and jungle. They are very tame and confiding and in Winter many frequent towns and villages. In food, flight etc. they resemble the White Wagtails but their call is softer and sweeter and easily recognizable.

The Fauna Of British India, Including Ceylon And Burma-birds(second Edition)
Baker, EC S (1922–1930) The fauna of British India including Ceylon and Burma. Second edition. vol.3 1926.
Title in Book: 
1174. Motacilla cinerea caspica
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Eastern Grey Wagtail
Grey Wagtail
Motacilla cinerea
Vol. 3
Term name: 

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