836. Motacilla feldeggi.
The Black-headed Wagtail.
Motacilla melanocephala, Licht. Vera. Doubl, p. 36 (1823), nec Gmelin. Motacilla feldeggi, Michah, Isis, 1830, p. 814; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. x, p. 527, pl. viii, figs. 1-4. Budytes melanocephala (Sykes), Blyth, Cat. p. 138; Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 351. Budytes melanocephala (Bonap.), Brooks, J. A. S. B. xliii, pt. ii, p. 248. Budytes melanocephala (Licht), Hume, Cat. no. 593 bis; Barnes, Birds Bom, p. 239.
Coloration. Resembles M. borealis in general style of coloration, but in summer plumage and in both sexes the forehead, crown, nape, hind neck, lores, cheeks, and ear-coverts are deep black. The chin and a band below the cheek are usually, but not always, white. There is occasionally a slight trace of a white supercilium.
In winter plumage the two species are very much alike, but the crown in M. feldeggi is generally concolorous with the back and not bluish grey, and in the male there is always a certain duskiness about the coronal region, and not unfrequently a few black feathers which suffice to indicate the species.
The young of both species appear to resemble each other closely, but it appears that in M. feldeggi there is seldom or never a well-marked supercilium as in the young of M. borealis, M. flava, and M. beema.
The dimensions and colours of the soft parts are the same as in H. borealis.
Owing to Lichtenstein having bestowed on this bird a name previously given by Gmelin to a very different species it seems advisable to follow Sharpe and discard the term melanocephala, notwithstanding that Gmelin's name has been shown to be applicable to Sylvia melanocephala. The greatest confusion has prevailed regarding these Yellow Wagtails and the adoption of an unused name, from which a new start may be taken for any one "Wagtail, is to be hailed with satisfaction.
Distribution. A winter visitor to the plains of India as far south as Belgaum, and east to Benares. This species passes through Kashmir on migration and summers in Central Asia. It extends to Southern Europe and North-east Africa.
M. campestris, Pall. (Budytes rayi, auct.), has been recorded doubtfully from India, but I cannot find any trustworthy instance of its occurrence within Indian limits and I accordingly exclude it.
This bird much resembles M. citreola, but is much yellower above, the entire head seldom becomes uniform yellow as in that species, and there is never any black band on the mantle.