1172. Motacilla lugubris maderaspatensis

(1172) Motacilla lugubris maderaspatensis.

The Large Pied Wagtail.

Motacilla maderaspatensis Gmelin, S. N., i, p. 961 (1789) (India) ; Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 291.

Vernacular names. Mamula, Bhuin Mamula, Khanjan (Hind.) ; Sukata sarela-gadu (Tel.).

Description. A very narrow line across the forehead and a broad supercilium white ; whole head, upper plumage, chin, throat, breast, sides of neck and lesser unci median wing-coverts black; tail black, the outermost pair of feathers broadly, and the next pair narrowly, edged with white on the inner webs on the basal portions; greater wing-coverts black at the base, white elsewhere; quills black, the primaries edged narrowly with white, the outer secondaries broadly edged with white and all with a large patch of white on the base of the inner webs ; remaining under plumage white.

Colours of soft parts. Iris brown; bill and legs black.

Measurements. Total length about 240 mm.; wing 97 to 103 mm.; tail 95 to 105 ram.: tarsus 25 to 26 mm.; culmen about 14 to 15 mm.

Females, possibly only when young, have the black upper parts somewhat duller.

Young birds have the black upper parts, chin, throat and breast replaced by earthy-brown; the white supercilium is absent or smaller and is a fulvous-white ; the white of the lower parts is also tinged with fulvous.

Distribution. The whole of India from the Himalayas to Ceylon. East it extends to Western Bengal and Orissa, but not to Eastern Bengal or Assam.

Nidification. The Large Pied Wagtail breeds almost throughout India, ascending the highest hills in the South and wandering some 2,000 feet into the Himalayas, occasionally 4,000 feet higher. The principal breeding months are March, April and May but many birds have a second brood in July, August and September. The nest may be placed in a hole almost anywhere as long as it is near water; holes in banks, walls, buildings, both occupied and empty, bridges, culverts etc. are commonly used but the most popular resort is an old boat, whether a portion of a bridge of boats, a constantly-used ferry or some derelict past all duty. The nest is well and strongly made, mainly of grass and roots but, often, of all kinds of odd materials, whilst the lining is always of wool, hair or fur of some kind. The eggs generally number four, frequently three only and, very rarely, five. They are just like those of the Common White Wagtail but duller and darker on an average, more often brown or reddish than are the eggs of that bird. They are said sometimes to make a very flimsy pretence at a nest and even occasionally to lay in a hole with no nest at all. One hundred eggs average 21.9 x 16.2 mm.: maxima 23.9 x 16.5 and 23.1 x 17.3 mm.; minima 20.4 X 15.9 and 22.3 x 15.1 mm.

Habits. In all their ways these birds are typical White Wagtails of the most confiding, humanity-loving type. True, where they are unusually numerous some birds will be seen far from towns and villages on the banks of rivers or on sandy islands but for the most part they are essentially birds which haunt civilization. Every big garden has its one or more pairs and, when not actually on the rivers, they run about the lawns and paths just as our Wagtails do at home.

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: 
1172. Motacilla lugubris maderaspatensis
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Large Pied Wagtail
White-browed Wagtail
Motacilla maderaspatensis
Vol. 3

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Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith