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Forest Wagtails

Wagtails
Forest Wagtail

The Forest Wagtail (Dendronanthus indicus) is a medium-sized passerine bird in the wagtail family Motacillidae, which also includes the pipits and longclaws.


Distribution / Range

It breeds in east Asia from Siberia to north China, and is migratory, wintering in south Asia from India to Indonesia.

As its English and scientific names imply, this is a forest species, a distinction from all other wagtails. It is usually found in open areas of the woodland such as clearings.


Nesting / Breeding

It builds its cup-shaped nest in a tree and usually lays five eggs.


Diet / Feeding

Like other wagtails, this species is insectivorous.


Description

This is a distinctive species, the only one in its genus (all other wagtails are Motacilla). The Forest Wagtail is 18cm in length, a slender bird with a long tail. The back and crown are olive brown, and the wings are black with two yellow wing bars and white tertial edges. There is a white supercilium (line above eye), above a dark patch through the eye. The underparts are white apart from a black double breast band. Males and females look alike.

Apart from its unusual plumage pattern and habitat, the Forest Wagtail differs from its Motacilla relatives in its strange habit of swaying its tail from side to side, not wagging it up and down like other wagtails.


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