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Conservation status: Red

The yellow wagtail is a small, graceful, yellow and green bird, with a medium-length tail and slender black legs. It spends much time walking or running on the ground. As its name implies, it wags its tail from time to time.

It is a summer visitor, migrating to winter in Africa. It breeds in a variety of habitats in the UK, including arable farmland, wet pastures and upland hay meadows. Serious declines in breeding numbers accross all of these habitats place the yellow wagtail on the red list of birds of conservation concern.



Latin name

Motacilla flava


Pipits and wagtails (Motacillidae)

Where to see them

Suitable habitat in central and eastern England, eastern Wales and southern Scotland. A good place to look is lowland grassland where cattle are being grazed.

When to see them

Late March to September

What they eat

Small insects, including flies and beetles.


EuropeUK breeding*UK wintering*UK passage*
-15,000 territories--




Marc Schweitzer, Xeno-canto

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