basic information

Black-headed Wagtail

Motacilla feldegg (Michahelles, 1830)

Черноголовая трясогузка | Қарабас шақшақай

Alakol lake. Almaty oblast.
© Askar Isabekov


The male of the Black-headed Wagtail in breeding plumage has velvet-black crown, lores, ear coverts, nape and sometimes fore mantle. Some specimens have white of yellow supercilium. The upperparts are yellow-green or grayish-yellowish-green, the rump is slightly bright. The underparts are bright-yellow, the chin sometimes is white. The wing coverts and flight feathers are brownish with white, yellowish or yellow edges. The two outer pairs of tail feathers are white with some dark on the inner webs; all other tail feathers are dark-brownish with narrow pale edges. The bill and legs are black. The female in breeding plumage is brownish green-olive tinged above; the rump is grayish. Old specimens have dim-black head, neck, ear coverts and lores. Upperparts are white slightly yellowish tinged. The wing coverts and flight feathers are with narrow white or yellowish edges. The tail feathers are same on male, the bill and legs are brownish. After autumn molting the Black-headed Wagtails have on upperparts greenish-yellow tips of feathers which almost full hid the black color of male's head; therefore males and females are similar. Juveniles in first plumage are buffy-brownish, ear coverts are whitish black mottled. After the autumn molting juveniles are similar on female. Weight 15-18 grams, male wing 75-86, tail 60-78 mm.


The Black-headed Wagtail breeds and occurs on migration in the southern half of Kazakhstan from Mangyshlak eastward to Alakol depression; in the north up to lowers of Turgay and Ayaguz rivers. Recorded in summer in Volga-Ural territory in 35km north of Telnov settlement; near Orenburg; on Batpakkol lake between Emba river and Mugodzhary ridge; in Kurgaldzhino Reserve; on Irtysh river near Ust-Kamenogorsk; and in Zaysan depression at Kaldzir river.


The Black-headed Wagtail is abundant, in places common breeding migrant. Inhabits flooded meadows, shores of lakes with rare reeds or tall grass and scattered bushes; mostly on plains but also probably in Tien Shan foothills up to 1000-1900 m. During migration it visits pastures, desert areas near lakes and reed beds, joining the flocks of thousands birds with other Motacilla species. Appears mid March to early April, when birds arrive in flocks of several dozen individuals. Most birds migrate mid – end April, last spring migrants recorded early – mid May. Breeds in loose colonies. Nest is built on ground under the grass shelter or dry cowpat from the dry grass and is lined with hair or thin grass. Clutches of 4-6 egg appears late April to late June. Both parents feed juveniles, which fledge in end May to mid July. Replaced nesting after the losing of the first nest is not rare. Autumn migration begins in August. Most birds migrate end August – September, last autumn migrants recorded in early October.


Motacilla feldegg melanogrisea (Homeyer, 187)


Gavrilov E. I., Gavrilov A. E. "The Birds of Kazakhstan". Almaty, 2005.
"Птицы Казахстана" том 3. "Наука". Алма-Ата, 1970.
Э.И.Гаврилов. "Фауна и распространение птиц Казахстана". Алматы, 1999.



Motacilla feldegg melanogrisea
(Homeyer, 187)


Motacilla (feldegg x citreola)


Motacilla feldegg aralensis
(Homeyer, 1878)
Motacilla feldegg melanocervix
(Homeyer et Тankre, 1883)
Motacilla flava feldegg
(Michahelles, 1830)

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Вадим Нагуманов: Спасибо, Анна!


Никита Канунников: я ошибся, у седоголовой же хвост не рыжий. а обводка вокруг глаза есть не только у неё.


Анна Ясько: Славка-завирушка.

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