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Wagtail, Yellow

Identify and index birds in Southern Africa

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JoelR
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Wagtail, Yellow

Unread postby JoelR » Fri Dec 04, 2009 12:38 pm

I am confused. I thought the bird below was a Yellow Wagtail, but can't find any pics online that match. Any comments?

Image

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Imberbe
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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby Imberbe » Fri Dec 04, 2009 12:45 pm

Where did you see it?
Imberbe = Combretum imberbe = Leadwood = Hardekool = The spirit of the Wildernis!

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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby JoelR » Fri Dec 04, 2009 12:47 pm

Imberbe wrote:Where did you see it?

Mkhombo Dam, Mpumalanga.

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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby Imberbe » Fri Dec 04, 2009 12:51 pm

My book describes it as a very variable species ... so I think it might be it. :hmz:
Imberbe = Combretum imberbe = Leadwood = Hardekool = The spirit of the Wildernis!

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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby JoelR » Fri Dec 04, 2009 12:54 pm

Yes, I know there are many subspecies and the habitat was perfect for Yellow Wagtail. What confuses me is the amount of white below and the flesh-colored bill... maybe it's a juvenile?

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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby deefstes » Fri Dec 04, 2009 1:08 pm

That's an interesting bird Joël. It does look like a Yellow Wagtail but I'm inclined to think that it might be partially leucistic/albinistic. The white patches are rather irregular.

The bird bothers me though, and in a BAD way. I'm wondering if Trevor or someone smart shouldn't have a look at it. What bothers me are the white wing bars (narrow though they may be), the absence of a facial mask, the absence of olive-green on the back and the long bill and tail.

I'm hesitant to say it... maybe someone smarter than me should have a look first.
...but I just can't help but wonder if a sub-adult Citrine Wagtail coming into adult plumage for the first time wouldn't perhaps look something like this. :big_eyes:
"Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals ... except the weasel." -Homer Simpson

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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby JoelR » Fri Dec 04, 2009 1:40 pm

Picture sent. If this gets positively ID'd as a Citrine Wagtail, I'll have to flee the country for reporting a mega-rarity 6 days too late... I can already hear the conversations when bumping into other birders: "Oh, are YOU JoelR, that guy who..., okay..., bye". *grumpy fellow birder walks off*

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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby HannoLangenhoven » Fri Dec 04, 2009 1:55 pm

If this turns out to be a Citrine then you would be so lucky if the birder only walks away with a few grumbles.

It might be exponentially more severe than that.

I personally would not even acknowledge that I am JoelR :twisted:
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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby Imberbe » Fri Dec 04, 2009 2:21 pm

:lol: Birding is dangerous ... :slap:
Imberbe = Combretum imberbe = Leadwood = Hardekool = The spirit of the Wildernis!

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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby deefstes » Fri Dec 04, 2009 2:32 pm

OK JoelR, you can breathe easy again. Seems we are looking at a Yellow Wag after all. phew!
"Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals ... except the weasel." -Homer Simpson

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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby JoelR » Fri Dec 04, 2009 2:45 pm

And there I had already decided that because of my newfound status of 'birders enemy' I would only SELL the location of this bird for BIG bucks... :twisted: :twisted:

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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby TTT » Fri Dec 04, 2009 3:31 pm

Hi all,

It's a first year male yellow wagtail all right, presumably of the subspecies lutea or another yellow headed taxon. The greenish feathers on the mantle are diagnostic, also, Citrine Wag has very long legs.
Ageing is possible thanks to the very worn greater coverts (adult moult them during the post-breeding molt).
Regards,
TTT

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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby deefstes » Fri Dec 04, 2009 4:00 pm

TTT wrote:Hi all,

It's a first year male yellow wagtail all right, presumably of the subspecies lutea or another yellow headed taxon. The greenish feathers on the mantle are diagnostic, also, Citrine Wag has very long legs.
Ageing is possible thanks to the very worn greater coverts (adult moult them during the post-breeding molt).

Thanks for the comments TTT. Trevor Hardaker has also confirmed since that it is indeed a Yellow Wagtail. I find your comment on the mantle interesting though as that was one of the things that bothered me. The mantle on the bird in question looks grey to me, not green? What gives?
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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby TTT » Fri Dec 04, 2009 6:01 pm

deefstes wrote: I find your comment on the mantle interesting though as that was one of the things that bothered me. The mantle on the bird in question looks grey to me, not green? What gives?


Hello Deefstes,

To understand what I refer to as the mantle:
http://www.gull-research.org/indexelements/topography.htm
http://www.iesmeulmeester.nl/index.php?id=6" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I assume what you refer to as the mantle are mainly the scapulars (or?). I can easily concede that the scaps look somewhat greyish, but not quite as grey as you would expect for a Citrine. To me, the colour is just not a problem for a worn Yellow wag.

Anyway, there are others details that point towards a Yellow wag: the undertail-coverts are yellow (mainly white in Citrine especially those in the far back), and the face pattern lack the typical pale surround to the ear-coverts. Also, the white wing bars should be more obvious on a Citrine at this time of the year, but this too variable to be completely reliable.

A lutea Yellow wag:
http://www.israbirding.com/reports/monthly_summaries/apr_08/lutea_yellow_wagtail_lior.jpg

Some citrines:
http://www.birdskorea.org/Images/images2008/04/Citrine-Wagtail_RN.jpg
http://www.birding.in/birds/Passeriformes/Passeridae/yellow-hooded_wagtail.htm
Regards,
TTT

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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby deefstes » Fri Dec 04, 2009 8:32 pm

TTT wrote:Hello Deefstes,

To understand what I refer to as the mantle:
http://www.gull-research.org/indexelements/topography.htm
http://www.iesmeulmeester.nl/index.php?id=6" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I assume what you refer to as the mantle are mainly the scapulars (or?). I can easily concede that the scaps look somewhat greyish, but not quite as grey as you would expect for a Citrine. To me, the colour is just not a problem for a worn Yellow wag.

Anyway, there are others details that point towards a Yellow wag: the undertail-coverts are yellow (mainly white in Citrine especially those in the far back), and the face pattern lack the typical pale surround to the ear-coverts. Also, the white wing bars should be more obvious on a Citrine at this time of the year, but this too variable to be completely reliable.

A lutea Yellow wag:
http://www.israbirding.com/reports/monthly_summaries/apr_08/lutea_yellow_wagtail_lior.jpg

Some citrines:
http://www.birdskorea.org/Images/images2008/04/Citrine-Wagtail_RN.jpg
http://www.birding.in/birds/Passeriformes/Passeridae/yellow-hooded_wagtail.htm


Thanks for the comments TTT. I know what you mean by "mantle" but I have to be honest that I can not see any green on the mantle in this bird. Admittedly there is very little of the mantle visible but what little can be seen of it, looks grey to me.

Regardless, I will certainly not argue that this bird is a Citrine Wag, I think I made my hesitation clear on that. I just wanted to be very sure that, if it does turn out to be a Citrine, we find out early enough so I can go twitch it :D

Here are Trevor Hardaker's comments on the bird:
Trevor Hardaker wrote:I am accessing this email from a remote computer (as I was quite interested in seeing the photo as quickly as possible after Dewald's call), so I don't have any reference material here with me at the moment.

However, I believe that this is a Yellow Wagtail (an immature male possibly in its second year) and probably of the race flavissima. The wing bars are not really strong enough to consider Citrine in my opinion which, if memory serves me correctly, will show stronger wing bars than this at all ages. I also feel that the darker ear coverts showing on this bird are more a feature of Yellow rather than Citrine which tends to show a concolourous yellow head.

I need to check the books on ageing, but I have a vague recollection that the younger Yellows might not always show the olive tinges to the back which might explain the colour of the back on your bird. I have a feeling that first summer males tend to be paler yellow underneath than this, but that second summer individuals are brighter, but again, I am working from memory here on a species than I don't get to see terribly often down here in the Western Cape, so I am perhaps not as on top of the ageing issues with this species as I should be due to the lack of time that I get to spend with this species.

When I get home this evening, I will "hit the books" and hopefully be able to come back to you with a slightly more definitive answer, but for the time being, I am fairly convinced that this is a Yellow Wagtail.
"Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals ... except the weasel." -Homer Simpson


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