Grey Wagtail – Motacilla cinerea – Photos and Facts

Grey Wagtail is a migratory bird towards the south of India. While it breeds in the Himalayas, it winters in the south. It has a large distribution in many parts of the world.

Photos of Grey Wagtail

Grey Wagtail photo from Munnar, Kerala
From Munnar, Kerala – February 2017

In the above photo from Munnar, the bird was near a small water source. This is a typical habitat. Both the photos show the winter form. Furthermore, in both the cases, the bird was alone.

Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)
From Kottayam, Kerala – December 2013

Facts about Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)


The primary color is grey. Maybe that is the reason behind its name. Although it looks very similar to the Yellow Wagtail, there are some key differences. The whitish chest of the former is one. Also, the latter is more yellowish.

The eyes are black and there is a white supercilium. The upper region is primarily yellow. Similar to other wagtails, it wags its tail frequently. The throat is white during winter. Tail and wings have brown to black color. Wings have white bands.


Size is in the range of 18 to 20cm.

Habitat & Distribution

It is common to see Grey Wagtails near streams on the edges of forests. Also, it is usually seen walking to and fro on the road wagging its tail. Generally, these birds are confined to the ground during the daytime. They are mostly found alone feeding on the ground.

The distribution is large, ranging from Europe to Asia, and parts of Africa.



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