|A collage of all the genera of Motacillidae.|
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.
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. 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 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, laying up to six speckled eggs.
Species and genera
- FAMILY: MOTACILLIDAE
- Forest Wagtail, Dendronanthus indicus
Genus Motacilla: typical wagtails
- Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
- Eastern Yellow Wagtail, Motacilla tschutschensis
- Madagascan Wagtail Motacilla flaviventris
- Sao Tome Shorttail, Motacilla bocagii
- Cape Wagtail Motacilla capensis
- Mountain Wagtail Motacilla clara
- Western Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava - paraphyletic
- Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola - possibly paraphyletic
- African Pied Wagtail Motacilla aguimp
- White-browed Wagtail Motacilla madaraspatensis
- Mekong Wagtail Motacilla samveasnae
- White Wagtail Motacilla alba - possibly paraphyletic
- Japanese Wagtail Motacilla grandis
- Upland Pipit Corydalla sylvana
- Australian Pipit, Cordyalla australis
- New Zealand Pipit Cordyalla novaeseelandiae
- Tawny Pipit Corydalla campestris
- Berthelot's Pipit Corydalla berthelotii
- Richard's Pipit Corydalla richardi
- Paddyfield Pipit Corydalla rufulus
- Blyth's Pipit Corydalla godlewskii
- Plain-backed Pipit Corydalla leucophrys
- Wood Pipit, Corydalla nyassae
- Long-billed Pipit Corydalla similis
- African Pipit Corydalla cinnamomeus
- Malindi Pipit Corydalla melindae
- Buffy Pipit Corydalla vaalensis
- Long-legged Pipit Corydalla pallidiventris
- Sokoke Pipit Cinaedium sokokensis
- Bushveld Pipit Cinaedium caffrum
- Mountain Pipit Cinaedium hoeschi
- Striped Pipit Cinaedium lineiventris
- African Rock Pipit Cinaedium crenatum
- Genus Hemimacronyx
- Genus Macronyx: longclaws
- Genus Anthus: typical pipits
- (c.40 species; see genus page)
- ^ 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
- ^ 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.
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