Pied characters in White wagtails or just Pied?

3 02 2012

Even during that boring winter days, while waiting for something coming from the cold, it’s not worth to stay at home.

Today morning, Manolo and me have decided to evaluate the effects of the cold front in Montjuic area. There were several common chiffchaffs, black redstars and song thrushes, but maybe the most intriguing bird was that White wagtail showing an odd facial pattern. It seemed the only strange character at a glance, but, giving atention to details, we have noticed the soft contrast between nape and mantle and, depending on the position, the dark flanks. Note that there is a quite obvious dark marking in the back in pictures 1 and 2, but not in picture 3. In the other hand, the flanks in picture 3 are completely dark, while in pictures 1 and 2 are not dark enough. If we join the facial pattern of pictures 1 and 2 and the flanks of picture 3, we obtain a good candidate for Pied, but that characters were not seen together.Unfortunately, we were not able to judge the rump.

Later on, I’ve seen another White wagtail showing extremely dark flanks. That character is usually underrated in some field guides, and that bird is a good example of that.The rest of the plumage was the typical awaited for a 1st winter White wagtail.

Pied wagtail Motacilla alba yarrellii is a rarity in Catalonia, with less than 10 sightings accepted by the regional Comitee, so it’s worth to be cautious when identifying a wagtail as a Pied. However, probably most of the Pied wagtails reaching Catalonia are 1st winters, which can present more identification difficulties. It’s interesting to examine carefully 1st winters such as the one above to determine the true status of that taxon in Catalonia.

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