[Hong Kong] Wagtail ID

Wagtail ID

Wanna know if this is an Eastern Yellow Wagtail?  Noted that the legs are black which is quite a symbolic feature of Eastern Yellow Wagtail.

Would also like to know if there is still a separate specie for Yellow Wagtail, or there are just Eastern Yellow Wagtail and Western Yellow Wagtail?

What makes things more complicated is the Yellow-headed Wagtail..............


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Yes, it is an Eastern Yellow Wagtail, subspecies M. t. taivana: note the yellow supercilium, yellow throat and dark ear-coverts (noticeably darker than crown); leg color is black in all Yellow Wagtails and hence not diagnostic.

According to the IOC World Bird List there are just two species, yes: Western Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava) and Eastern Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla tschutschensis). There might always be taxonomic changes in the futures (as there have been in the past)…

Both have a number of subspecies:

Motacilla flava:
M. f. flavissima - British Yellow or Yellow Wagtail
M. f. lutea - Yellow-headed, Kirgiz Steppe or Yellow-backed Yellow Wagtail
M. f. flava - European or Blue-headed Yellow Wagtail
M. f. beema - Syke's, Blue-headed or White-eared Yellow Wagtail
M. f. iberiae - Spanish or Iberian Yellow Wagtail
M. f. cinereocapilla - Ashy-headed or Italian Yellow Wagtail
M. f. pygmaea - Egyption Yellow Wagtail
M. f. leucocephala - White-headed Yellow Wagtail
M. f. feldegg - Black-headed Yellow Wagtail
M. f. thunbergia - Grey-headed, Dark-headed or Northern Yellow Wagtail

Motacilla tschutschensis:
M. t. plexa - East Siberian Yellow Wagtail
M. t. tschutschensis - Alaskan or American Yellow Wagtail
M. t. macronyx - Manchurian or Ussuri Yellow Wagtail
M. t. taivana - Green-headed or Kurile Yellow Wagtail

The English names are synonyms. The above list omits additional forms, like melanogrisea, zaissanensis, angarensis, simillima and some others, like hybrids. It's complex.


Many thanks! Loud and clear!