[Tweeters] Wagtail id question

birdmarymoor at gmail.com birdmarymoor at gmail.com
Thu Jan 25 19:43:49 PST 2018

I believe current taxonomy tends to consider Black-backed Wagtail as a
subspecies of White Wagtail, so the species (barring arguments about that
taxonomic decision) is not in question.

As to the subspecies of White Wagtail, this bird has a clear black line from
the beak through the eye and back to the gray nape. As such, I think that
gives us a choice of Motacilla alba ocularis ("Swinhoe's Wagtail" or "East
Siberian Wagtail") or M. a. lugens ("Black-backed Wagtail")

The bird in Fall City has pretty clear and obvious wing bars, which tends to
point to ocularis. It is also appears completely gray on the back, nape,
and crown, which also would point to ocularis. The breast has quite an
extensive black bib, which may point more towards lugens.

I'd love to see some photos from closer up - scope views are way better than
no photos at all, but plumage details are not terribly easy to make out.

But I'm leaning towards M. a. ocularis.

We'll see what the WBRC decides. Anyone with photos should submit them to
the WBRC, or post them to eBird with notes and forward the checklist to the

Very nice bird!!!

== Michael Hobbs
== www.marymoor.org/birding.htm
== BirdMarymoor at frontier.com

-----Original Message-----
From: amk17 at earthlink.net
Sent: Thursday, January 25, 2018 7:12 PM
To: Tweeters at U.Washington.edu
Subject: [Tweeters] Wagtail id question

I was fortunate to observe and listen to flight calls of the wagtail today.
Thank you Logan Searl!!

And I took a few really bad photos; however I am having a little trouble
convincing myself that this is a white wagtail and not a black-backed. But
this is my first wagtail sp and the pics and the descriptions just don't
seem to match, fully, a white wagtail.

It appears to be a first winter (or non-breeding if white wagtail) adult
female. In my photos I do not see dark bases below the white median coverts
but the bars appear thin. Of interest, Logan pointed out yellow at the base
of the bill when viewed through the scope (just visible in some photos). The
flight call was clearly a chiswick or a jijik.

Just wondering if everyone is confident on the id. I'll try to post photos
on flicker later and share the link but they are not great. Hopefully
others have better photos and videos.

Seattle, WA
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