Tag Archives: Longtailed Wagtail

Mountain Wagtail

Motacilla clara

Of the three kinds of resident wagtails that occur in South Africa, the Mountain Wagtail has by far the most limited and patchy distribution. In the Eastern Cape it occurs along the coast east of Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth) and in the mountains around Hogsback. In Kwazulu-Natal they’re found on the south coast, in the Midlands and in the Drakensberg, with fewer records from further north in the province. in Mpumalanga and Limpopo they frequent the mountains of the escarpment. The distribution range of this species is equally disjointed through the rest of sub-Saharan Africa. According to the IUCN, the Mountain Wagtail is of least concern. These confiding birds are found along pristine mountain streams strewn with boulders and bordered by dense vegetation, seldom venturing out into open areas like lawns like the others of its family. They feed mainly on insects and bathe regularly.

Adult Mountain Wagtails form monogamous territorial pairs that remain strong life-long, and unless one of the pair is on the nest they’re always seen together, often joined by their offspring. Mountain Wagtails nest in spring and summer, with both partners involved in constructing the cup-shaped nest in a cavity in the river bank, rock face, or among flood debris. Clutches contain 1-4 eggs which are incubated for 2 weeks. The chicks leave the nest 2-3 weeks after hatching, and then remain with their parents for up to 2 months more. Fully grown they measure about 20cm in length and weigh approximately 20g.