Iberian Yellow Wagtail

One of several bird species that constantly wag their long tails or bob up and down and always nice to see by the river or further afield in the Málaga wetlands.

Iberian Yellow Wagtail, Malaga wetlands

Appearance

The Iberian Yellow Wagtail, Motacilla flava iberiae, is a small passerine bird belonging to the Motacillidae family and is classified as a subspecies of the Western Yellow Wagtail.

Measuring around 15 cm (5.9 inches) in length and with a long and almost permanently wagging tail, these birds are very bright and colourful in appearance. Their plumage is a delightful blend of yellow and green hues which makes them almost instantly recognisable. During the breeding season, males often sport a darker blackish-green throat, adding to their allure.

Habitat

These wagtails are primarily found in the Iberian Peninsula, which includes Spain and Portugal, hence their name. However, their range extends into North Africa, parts of France and into Asia and they will often spend the winters in the central and western parts of Africa.. They are most commonly spotted in wetlands, open fields, and near water bodies, where they forage for insects and other invertebrates. The Iberian Yellow Wagtail’s preference for such habitats is crucial in maintaining the balance of local ecosystems.

Iberian Yellow Wagtail, Malaga

Behaviour

Observing the Iberian Yellow Wagtail in its natural habitat is a delightful experience. These birds are known for their vibrant aerial displays, featuring fluttering and undulating flight patterns. Melodious calls often accompany these displays, adding to the overall spectacle. These vocalizations are not just a source of joy for bird enthusiasts but also serve as a form of communication within the species.

Breeding and Nesting

During the breeding season, which typically spans from April to July, Iberian Yellow Wagtails construct their nests on the ground, often hidden amidst vegetation near water sources. The female lays a clutch of eggs and both parents then participate in incubation and chick-rearing duties. This cooperative parenting approach reflects the strong bonds formed within these avian families.

Iberian Yellow Wagtail

Conservation Status

The Iberian Yellow Wagtail, like so many other bird species, faces threats due to habitat destruction and changes in land use. Wetland drainage and agricultural intensification have led to habitat loss, which poses a significant challenge to their survival.

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