Genus MOTACILLA

The genus Motacilla contains the typical Wagtails, which are found over the whole of the Old World.

In Motacilla the upper plumage is quite plain, being characterized by an utter absence of all streaks, spots, or mottlings. The sexes are alike or nearly so, and, the difference between the summer and winter plumage in most of the species is very striking. The Pied Wagtails are constantly undergoing a change of colour, and it is hardly possible to find two birds at the same date in the same state of plumage. This causes them to be very difficult to identify by any set description. The Yellow Wagtails do not undergo such complete changes as the Pied, but their similarity to each other is so great in winter and immature plumage, that their recognition is still more difficult.

The Wagtails have the tail and wing of nearly equal length, and they have the habit of vibrating the former repeatedly. They frequent open land, fields, and the banks of rivers and ponds, some of the species of Yellow Wagtails being only found on marshy land. They construct their nests on or near the ground or in holes of walls and banks, and their eggs are much spotted with brown.

Key to the Species.

A. Hind claw much curved and shorter than hind toe (fig. 78).
a1. Plumage black, white, and grey.
a2. Ear-coverts and sides of neck always white-washed.
a3. No black streak, through eye.
a4. Greater wing-coverts merely mar¬gined with white ; back never black………………..M. alba, p. 287.
B4. Outer webs of greater wing-coverts entirely white; back black or dusky on the mantle………………..M. leucopsis, p. 288.
b3. A broad black streak through the eye………………..M. ocularis, p. 289.
b2. Ear-coverts and sides of neck always black.
c3. Forehead entirely white.
c4. Back always grey………………..M. personata, p. 290.
d4. Back black or with traces of black or dusky………………..M. hodgsoni, p. 291.
d3. Forehead with black of the crown produced to base of bill………………..M. maderaspatensis,[p. 291.
b1. Plumage largely yellow and green………………..M. melanope, p. 293.
B. Hind claw little curved and much longer than hind toe (fig. 81, p. 294).
c1. Tarsus unmistakably shorter than one inch.
c2. Crown dark slaty grey; supercilium absent or obsolete; cheeks blackish………………..M. borealis, p. 294.
d2. Crown dark slaty blue; supercilium very broad and distinct; cheeks black¬ish and ear-coverts streaked with white………………..M. flava, p. 295.
e2. Crown pale grey; supercilium broad and distinct; cheeks white………………..M. beema, p. 296.
f2. Crown black; supercilium absent or obsolete; cheeks and ear-coverts deep black………………..M. feldeggi, p. 297.
d1. Tarsus considerably longer than one inch.
g2. Back always ashy grey………………..M. citreola, p. 298.
h2. Back either black or with some black or dusky feathers………………..M. citreoloides, p. 299.

BookTitle: 
The Fauna Of British India including Ceylon and Burma
Reference: 
OATES EW. The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Vol.2 1890.
Title in Book: 
Genus MOTACILLA
Book Author: 
Eugene William Oates, Edited by William Thomas Blanford
Year: 
1890
Page No: 
285
M_ID: 
30296
M_SN: 
Motacilla
Volume: 
Vol. 2
Term name: 
id: 
1133

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