Birds ‹‹ Go Back

Common Name : Yellow Wagtail     -       Scientific Name : Motacilla flava       -       Other Name : Western Yellow Wagtail (E), Kaha Halapenda (S)
Kaali Villu
Borupan Wila
Borupan Wila
Kumutu Wila
Thimbiri Wila

This is a migrant to the lowlands. It is an active little bird, which is usually seen walking along the edge of water and darting at insects. Each time it stops it would start bobbing its tail vigorously amplifying its restless nature. Twelve subspecies have been recognized.  The following four have been recorded so far in the country;

  • Grey-headed Wagtail or Dark-headed Wagtail  M.f. thunbergi
  • Sykes Wagtail M.f. bema
  • Yellow-headed Wagtail M.f.lutea
  • Black-headed Wagtail M.f.feldegg

The most common subspecies seen throughout the lowlands during winter is the M.f. thunbergi. Others are rare and are occasionally recorded in the dry lowlands. These birds breed in temperate Europe and Asia. The northern and eastern populations migrate to Africa and south Asia.

The conservation status of this species is regarded as Least Concerned (IUCN Red List).

This is a species protected under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance as amended by Act No. 22 of 2009.

During the migrant season this species can be seen on open grasslands, water bodies and marshlands throughout the lowlands. In the wet zone I have seen it at Kotte marshes, Thalangama Wetlands and paddy fields around Bellanwila Attidiya. The highest altitude at which I have seen it so far has been at Udawalawa national park at 373 meters. This species can often be detected if one is familiar with its high-pitched call, which is always made each time the bird is on the wing.

This is a rare species at Wilpattu I have seen it once (M.f. thunbergi) at Kaali Villu.