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UK Nature  > Birds  > Motacilla alba

Scientific Name:   Motacilla alba
Common Name:   Pied Wagtail

Motacilla alba, more commonly known as the Pied Wagtail, is a small (approx. 18cm in length), long-tailed and rather delicate-looking black and white bird. When not standing still and manically wagging its tail up and down it can be seen dashing about over lawns or car parks in search of food.

It often calls when in its undulating flight and frequently gathers at dusk to form large roosts in city centres. They eat insects and their larvae, small molluscs, worms and sometimes seeds. Most nests are to be found in holes, clefts and ledges, usually sited in banks, ditches and buildings. Old nests of other birds, such as Blackbirds (Turdus merula), are sometimes used. Both sexes build the nest, with the female taking the larger share, and completing the lining of hair, wool and feathers.

Pied Wagtails can be found in many and varied open places including fields, farmyards, parks and meadows. However, it does display a distinct preference to areas in the vicinity of water. Resident and common throughout the UK.
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