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Motacillidae
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A collage of all the genera of Motacillidae.
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Clade: Inopinaves
Order: Passeriformes
Suborder: Passeri
Clade: Nine-primaried oscines
Family: Motacillidae
Horsfield, 1821
Genera

The Motacillidae are a family of small passerine birds with medium to long tails. There are around 65 species in 6 genera and they include the wagtails, longclaws and pipits. The longclaws are entirely restricted to the Afrotropics, and the wagtails are predominately found in Europe, Africa and Asia, with two species migrating and breeding in Alaska. The pipits have the most cosmopolitan distribution, being found across mostly in the Old World but occurring also in the Americas and oceanic islands such as New Zealand and the Falklands. Two African species, the Yellow-breasted Pipit and Sharpe's Longclaw are sometimes placed in a separate seventh genus, Hemimacronyx, which is closely related to the longclaws.[1]

Description

Wagtails, pipits, and longclaws are slender, small to medium sized passerines, ranging from 14 to 17 centimetres in length, with short necks and long tails.[2] They have long, pale legs with long toes and claws, particularly the hind toe which can be up to 4 cm in length in some longclaws. There is no sexual dimorphism in size. Overall the robust longclaws are larger than the pipits and wagtails. Longclaws can weigh as much as 64 g, whereas the weight range for pipits and wagtails is 15–31 g. The plumage of most pipits is dull brown and reminiscent of the larks, although some species have brighter plumages, particularly the Golden Pipit of north-east Africa. The adult male longclaws have brightly coloured undersides. The wagtails often have striking plumage, including grey, black, white, and yellow.

Most motacillids are ground-feeding insectivores[2] of slightly open country. They occupy almost all available habitats, from the shore to high mountains. Wagtails prefer wetter habitats to the pipits. A few species use forests, including the Forest Wagtail, and other species use forested mountain streams, such as the Grey Wagtail or the Mountain Wagtail.

Motacillids take a wide range of invertebrate prey, especially insects are the most commonly taken, but also including spiders, worms, and small aquatic molluscs and arthropods. All species seem to be fairly catholic in their diet, and the most commonly taken prey for any particular species or population usually reflects local availability.

With the exception of the Forest Wagtail, they nest on the ground,[2] laying up to six speckled eggs.

Taxonomy

Motacillidae is sequentially sister to a large radiation of songbirds, including Fringillidae and the entire New World Nine-primaried Oscine radiation. They are closely related to the Fringillidae.[3]

Species and genera

File:Olive-backed Pipit.png
File:Forest Wagtail.png
File:Yellow-throated Longclaw.png
FAMILY: MOTACILLIDAE

Genus Dendronanthus

Genus Motacilla: typical wagtails

Genus Corydalla

Genus Cinaedium

Genus Tmetothylacus

Genus Hemimacronyx

Genus Macronyx: longclaws

Genus Anthus: typical pipits

References

  1. ^ Voelker, Gary; Scott V. Edwards (1998). "Can Weighting Improve Bushy Trees? Models of Cytochrome b Evolution and the Molecular Systematics of Pipits and Wagtails (Aves: Motacillidae)". Systematic Biology. 47 (4): 589–603. PMID 12066304. doi:10.1080/106351598260608.  Cite uses deprecated parameter |coauthors= (help)
  2. ^ a b c Clancey, P.A. (1991). Forshaw, Joseph, ed. Encyclopaedia of Animals: Birds. London: Merehurst Press. pp. 172–173. ISBN 1-85391-186-0. 
  3. ^ Winkler, D. W., S. M. Billerman, and I.J. Lovette (2020). Wagtails and Pipits (Motacillidae), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman, B. K. Keeney, P. G. Rodewald, and T. S. Schulenberg, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.motaci1.01

External links


Sterna diversity This article is part of Project Bird Families, a All Birds project that aims to write comprehensive articles on each bird family, including made-up families.
Hemipus picatus This article is part of Project Bird Taxonomy, a All Birds project that aims to write comprehensive articles on every order, family and other taxonomic rank related to birds.
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