Eastern Yellow Wagtail: 21 Facts You Won’t Believe!

Eastern yellow wagtail facts help us learn more about this species which has been identified as the bird that is most likely to carry the extremely pathogenic H5N1 strain of avian flu from Asia to Alaska.

Eastern yellow wagtails are slender birds with continuously wagging tails. This particular species breeds in the East Palearctic and has traction in North America in Alaska. However, they migrate to South Asia and Australia during the winter. They have a sharp voice and song, and this insectivorous bird feeds on small insects and prefers to live in open regions close to water, like wet swamps. They generally make their nest on the ground, hidden under low vegetation, and lay four to eight speckled eggs during the breeding season. The eastern yellow wagtail calls others by producing sweet little sounds and singing songs.

Look at these interesting facts about the eastern yellow wagtail bird; if you like these, check out Kidadl's fact files on the red kite facts and swallow-tailed kite facts.

Eastern Yellow Wagtail

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Small insects, worms, moths, beetles

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

4-8 speckled eggs

How much do they weigh?

0.6-0.9 oz (17-25 g)

How long are they?

5.9-6.3 in (15-16 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Yellow-white slender bird with continually wagging tail

Skin Type


What are their main threats?

Habitat loss, larger birds, animals

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Open country, wet meadows


North America, Alaska, South Asia, Australia





Scientific Name

Motacilla tschutschensis





Eastern Yellow Wagtail Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an eastern yellow wagtail?

The eastern yellow wagtail (Motacilla tschutschensis) is a tiny passerine bird species that belongs to the wagtail family Motacillidae. They are found mainly in North America, especially Alaska, and some parts of South Asia. They have a continually wagging tail, and that's why they are referred to as wagtails. They make their nest well hidden in the ground under shrubs and lay about four to eight eggs during the breeding season, and feed on small insects. During migration in the winter months, their species map the entirety of Australia and South Asia.

What class of animal does an eastern yellow wagtail belong to?

The eastern yellow wagtail is a bird, and like all the other birds, it belongs to the class Aves.

How many eastern yellow wagtails are there in the world?

Researchers have not yet estimated the total number of wagtails in the world because they are found in abundance in the wild.

Where does an eastern yellow wagtail live?

The habitat of eastern yellow wagtail (Motacilla tschutschensis) is mainly found in North America, especially Alaska, and being migratory birds, they migrate to different parts of Asia from Alaska, particularly to South Asia and East Asia, and to Australia during the winter.

What is an eastern yellow wagtail's habitat?

Eastern yellow wagtails (Motacilla tschutschensis) prefer to inhabit open countries, lakeshores, riverbanks, and wet meadows. It frequents a similar kind of living space in the old world, where it tends to range from swampy regions to willow scours.

Who do eastern yellow wagtails live with?

Yellow wagtails usually live with their group comprising of male and female birds, and their group is collectively called a 'flock' of wagtails. Eastern yellow wagtail winter migration with its flock is very common as they map entire Australia and South Asia.

How long does an eastern yellow wagtail live?

The average lifespan range of this species of bird is somewhere around 4-15 years.

How do they reproduce?

Researchers have not yet found out much about the reproduction process of this species. Still, like other breeds of birds, the breeding process of this species takes place by laying four to eight speckled eggs by the female bird during the breeding season, followed by its protection by the parent birds until they hatch. This species makes its nest, hidden under shrubs and low vegetation on the ground for protection from predators.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of this bird is of Least Concern according to the IUCN. The total population of this species gives off an impression of being steady, and the range of this bird species is adequate enough for no current concern with respect to conservation threats in the near future.

Eastern Yellow Wagtail Fun Facts

What do eastern yellow wagtails look like?

Eastern yellow wagtail birds are separate from the western yellow wagtail birds, with some sub-species of their own apart from the western wagtail.

Eastern yellow wagtails are a slim 5.9-6.3 in (15-16 cm) long bird, with the trademark long, continually wagging tail of its sort. They have olive-green upperparts, yellow underparts with earthy colored spots on either side of the bosom, and a white neck with a faint earthy-colored neckband. Their wings are brown in color with two white bars, and their tail is also a bit brown with white edges. The adult male is essentially doubly colored with olive above and yellow underparts. In different feathers, the yellow might be diluted by the white color. The heads of adult male and female birds comprise an array of tones, both on the upper body and on its underparts, varying according to the sub-species.

How cute are they?

With their signature vibrant yellow-brown colored feathers and slim body, this tiny species of bird looks very appealing to the eyes and is very cute in appearance and looks.

How do they communicate?

They communicate through vocalization among their own breeds. The eastern yellow wagtail call and communicate with others by producing little sounds and singing song.

How big is an eastern yellow wagtail?

The length of an eastern yellow wagtail range from 5.9-6.3 in (15-16 cm) which is similar to the western yellow wagtail (Motacilla flava), which is a species of a similar family and whose length also ranges from 5.9-6.3 in (15-16 cm).

How fast can an eastern yellow wagtail fly?

The exact speed of the eastern yellow wagtail and the western yellow wagtail (Motacilla flava) has not been calculated yet by the researchers, but being so slender and small, they are estimated to fly at a very fast speed.

How much does an eastern yellow wagtail weigh?

The eastern yellow wagtail weighs somewhere in between 0.6-0.9 oz (17-25 g), which is almost similar to the eastern yellow wagtail bird (Motacilla flava), which is a species of a similar family and whose weight also ranges from 0.6-0.9 oz (17-25 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There is no such specific name given to the male and female birds of these species.

What would you call a baby eastern yellow wagtail?

A baby is called a chick or a juvenile.

What do they eat?

An eastern yellow wagtail's diet consists of small insects like moths, worms, and mosquitoes.

Are they friendly?

They are not as friendly to humans as compared to some other species of birds, but among their own group, they are extremely friendly and always fly in flocks of hundreds of birds to prey on insects and for migration.

Would they make a good pet?

They do not make a good pet as they are not domestic birds and prefer open areas like that of North America, Asia, Alaska, and Australia to live in.

Did you know...

These birds have been identified as the birds that are most likely to carry the extremely pathogenic H5N1 strain from Asia to Alaska of avian flu. They also sing-song in order to make calls to other birds of similar breeds. During migration in the winter months, this species can be found across Australia and South Asia.

What's the difference between the eastern and the western yellow wagtail?

The main point of difference between the eastern yellow wagtail and the western yellow wagtails (Motacilla flava) is sexual dimorphism, which is more clear in the gathering of western birds and the shades of the adult plumage. Also, the western wagtails have adjusted paws of rear toes, while the eastern wagtails have long and straight paws.

Why are they called wagtails?

They are called wagtails because their long brownish tails continuously keep wagging all the time.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our gray-cheeked parakeet facts and stilt owl facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable eastern yellow wagtail coloring pages.



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