Pied wagtail in the grass (c) Keith Cochrane

Pied wagtail

Sprightly and skittish, the pied wagtail is constantly in motion, from its jerky walk to its constantly wagging tail. Individuals are often seen dashing across verges on the hunt for insects, as comfortable in urban wastes as they are alongside streams and reed beds. Pied wagtails will gather in their hundreds in winter to roost, with flocks settling in car parks, industrial estates, sewage works, hospitals and supermarkets.

Pied wagtails are found across Europe and Asia and in parts of north Africa where they are known as white wagtails. The British subspecies of pied wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrelli) has a darker plumage on its back. Pied wagtails are petite birds with a sharp pointed beak ideal for jabbing at insects.

Scientific name: Motacilla alba

Rank: Species

Common names:

White wagtail

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The Pied wagtail can be found in a number of locations including: Africa, Asia, Europe, United Kingdom. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.


The following habitats are found across the Pied wagtail distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.


Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

Conservation Status

Least Concern

  1. EX - Extinct
  2. EW
  3. CR - Threatened
  4. EN - Threatened
  5. VU - Threatened
  6. NT
  7. LC - Least concern

Year assessed: 2009

Classified by: IUCN 3.1