Pipits and Wagtails (Motacillidae)

White Wagtail (Motacilla alba) - HBW 9, p. 777

French: Bergeronnette grise German: Bachstelze Spanish: Lavandera Blanca
Other common names: Black-backed/Japanese Pied/Kamchatka Pied Wagtail (lugens); Black-eared/Hodgson’s Wagtail (alboides); Indian White Wagtail (dukhunensis); Masked Wagtail (personata); Moroccan Wagtail (subpersonata); Pied/British Pied Wagtail (yarrellii); Streak-eyed Wagtail (ocularis); Swinhoe’s Wagtail (baicalensis); Amur/White-faced Wagtail (leucopsis)

Taxonomy: Motacilla alba Linnaeus, 1758, Sweden.
Thought to form a superspecies with M. maderaspatensis, M. grandis and M. aguimp, all of which formerly often regarded as races of present species, and with recently described M. samveasnae; some recent analyses of mitochondrial DNA, however, suggest that M. aguimp possibly more distantly related to that group. Geographical variation marked and complex. Races often divided into four groups on basis mainly of breeding range: “nominate group” (including also yarrellii, persica, dukhunensis, personata, baicalensis), “.. View all taxonomy...

Taxonomy: Motacilla alba Linnaeus, 1758, Sweden.
Thought to form a superspecies with M. maderaspatensis, M. grandis and M. aguimp, all of which formerly often regarded as races of present species, and with recently described M. samveasnae; some recent analyses of mitochondrial DNA, however, suggest that M. aguimp possibly more distantly related to that group. Geographical variation marked and complex. Races often divided into four groups on basis mainly of breeding range: “nominate group” (including also yarrellii, persica, dukhunensis, personata, baicalensis), “alboides group” (with leucopsis), “lugens group” (with ocularis), and single-taxon “subpersonata group”. In addition, several races sometimes regarded as separate species, but widespread intergradation occurs where races meet, and frequent co-occurrence evident in non-breeding quarters; in particular, lugens and personata often ranked as full species, but former appears to intergrade and interbreed with both leucopsis and ocularis, and latter with dukhunensis, alboides and baicalensis. Moreover, the described taxa persica and dukhunensis may be only inter-racial hybrids, perhaps better included within nominate. Proposed race frontata (described from Xiamen, SE China, where probably only migrant) provisionally included in leucopsis, though possibly of hybrid origin. Other named races include forwoodi (described from Abd al Kuri I, W of Socotra), included in nominate; and albula (Khasi Hills, in NE India), considered inseparable from alboides. Eleven subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution:

  • alba Linnaeus, 1758 - breeds SE Greenland, Iceland, Faeroe Is and throughout continental Europe (has bred Britain and Ireland) E to Urals, Turkey and Levant; winters in S part of range and S to W & E Africa, Arabia and SW Asia.
  • yarrellii Gould, 1837 - breeds Britain and Ireland, possibly also N parts of W Europe; partial migrant, winters S to NW Africa.
  • dukhunensis Sykes, 1832 - breeds from C Russia (Ural Mts E to Taymyr Peninsula) S to Caucasus, NW Iran, Kyrgyz Steppes and foothills of Altai Mts; winters Middle East E to Indian Subcontinent.

     See all 11 subspecies
  • alba Linnaeus, 1758 - breeds SE Greenland, Iceland, Faeroe Is and throughout continental Europe (has bred Britain and Ireland) E to Urals, Turkey and Levant; winters in S part of range and S to W & E Africa, Arabia and SW Asia.
  • yarrellii Gould, 1837 - breeds Britain and Ireland, possibly also N parts of W Europe; partial migrant, winters S to NW Africa.
  • dukhunensis Sykes, 1832 - breeds from C Russia (Ural Mts E to Taymyr Peninsula) S to Caucasus, NW Iran, Kyrgyz Steppes and foothills of Altai Mts; winters Middle East E to Indian Subcontinent.
  • ocularis Swinhoe, 1860 - breeds N & NE Siberia (E from Taymyr Peninsula and R Yenisey, S to Lensk region, Stanovoy Mts and N Kamchatka) and extreme NW USA (W Alaska); winters S Asia E from NE Indian Subcontinent.
  • subpersonata Meade-Waldo, 1901 - NW Africa (W Morocco).
  • persica Blanford, 1876 - NC & W Iran (S Elburz Mts, Zagros Mts).
  • personata Gould, 1861 - breeds C Asia from Transcaspia and N Iran E to S Russia (W Sayan Mts), W Mongolia, extreme NW China (NW & W Xinjiang) and S to N Afghanistan, N Pakistan and Kashmir; winters Iran and E Arabia E to Indian Subcontinent.
  • baicalensis Swinhoe, 1871 - breeds SC Siberia (upper R Yenisey E to Stanovoy Mts) S to Mongolia and NE China (NE Nei Mongol); winters N India E to SE China and C Indochina.
  • lugens Gloger, 1829 - breeds SE Russia (from S coasts of Sea of Okhotsk, Sakhalin, C Kamchatka and Commander Is) S to N Korea and Japan; winters Myanmar E to SE China, Taiwan and S Japan.
  • leucopsis Gould, 1838 - breeds C & E China (Qinghai E to Heilongjiang and W Zhejiang, S to N Guangxi and N Guangdong), Russian Far East (Amurland, Ussuriland), Korea and SW Japan (SW Honshu, N Kyushu); winters S Asia E from N India.
  • alboides Hodgson, 1836 - breeds Himalayas (E from NE Pakistan), S China (S Xizang, S & SE Qinghai E to S Shaanxi, S to Yunnan and Guizhou), N Myanmar, extreme N Laos and extreme N Vietnam; winters in foothills and S to Bangladesh and N Thailand.