305. BLUE-HEADED WAGTAIL.
Motacilla flava, Linn. Syst. Nat. i. p. 331 (1766) ; Naum. iii. p. 839. Taf. 88 ; Hewitson i. p. 168, pl. xlii. fig. 2 ; Gould, B. of E. pl. 146 ; id. B. of Gt. Brit. iii. pl. 4 ; Newton, i. p. 558 ; Dresser, iii. p. 261, pl. 129, figs. 1, 2 ; Sharpe, Cat. B. Br. Mus. x. p. 516 ; Oates, F. Brit. Ind. Birds, ii. p. 295 ; Saunders, p. 127 ; Lilford, iii. p. 110, pl. 56.
Bergeronnette printaniere, French ; Alveloa amarella, Portug. ; Pispita amarilla, Span., Cutti, Ital. ; Gelbe, Bachstelze, Germ. ; Gele Kwikstaart, Dutch ; Gul Vipstjert, Dan. ; Gulerle, Norweg. ; Gularla, Swed. ; Fiskis-cicas, Lapp. ; Kelta-Vastarakki, Finn. ; Jeltaya Tresogushka, Russ.
Male ad. (Germany). Crown, nape, and sides of head ashy blue ; upper parts deep greenish grey, greener on the rump ; wings and tail dark brown, the former with yellowish or buffy white margins ; outer tail-feathers nearly white ; supercilium, a broad streak below the eye and chin white ; rest of under parts rich canary-yellow ; legs and bill black ; iris brown. Culmen, 0.62, wing 3.3, tail 2.10 tarsus 1.0 inch. The female is paler and the head and nape are faintly tinged with olivaceous. In the autumn the yellow in the plumage is paler. The young bird has the crown and nape tinged with brown and the upper parts are greyish brown tinged with olivaceous, the under parts yellowish white and the breast and sides of the neck marked with blackish brown. In all plumages the white or whitish supercilium is present.
Hab. Europe as far north as Central Sweden, somewhat rare in Great Britain ; Asia as far north as northern Siberia, ranging into N.W. America ; wintering in Africa as far south as the Cape Colony, and in Asia as the Moluccas.
In its habits it has much in common with the common Yellow Wagtail, and frequents meadows, especially where cattle are grazing, marshy localities, and the vicinity of water. It is as a rule not shy, and moves about with the greatest ease and grace, catching insects on the wing as they rise from the grass with great adroitness. It feeds on insects of various kinds : gnats, small grasshoppers, caterpillars, &c. Its call-note is a clear piping note, often uttered, and in the spring the male utters a peculiar love-call resembling the syllables zeer zeer. The nest, which is placed on the ground, amongst the grass, in a hole, or in a bank, is constructed of grass-bents, fine roots, and moss, lined with finer bents, horsehair, or wool, occasionally also with a few feathers, and the eggs, which are usually deposited in June, in number from 4 to 6, are dirty white marbled and clouded with clay-brown or greyish or yellowish buff, and measure about 0.77 by 0.61. The amount of white on the cheeks varies considerably In individuals, and a variety having the cheeks white with only a broad slate-grey band passing through the eye has been separated specifically under the name of Motacilla beema Sykes (cf. Sharpe tom. cit. p. 521, pl. vi, fig. 6), but it appears to me to be undeserving of even sub-specific rank.
305. Motacilla flava
305. BLUE-HEADED WAGTAIL.