Family Pipits and Wagtails (Motacillidae)

Least Concern

African Pied Wagtail (Motacilla aguimp)


French: Bergeronnette pie German: Witwenstelze Spanish: Lavandera africana
Other common names: African Wagtail

Motacilla aguimp


, 1820,

#R, Lower Orange River, South Africa


Previously thought to be related to M. alba, M. maderaspatensis, M. grandis and M. samveasnae, but recent analyses of mitochondrial DNA suggest that it is a sister-taxon to a group containing M. alba (with race lugens), M. flava, M. citreola and M. cinerea. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. a. vidua Sundevall, 1850 – E Gambia, SE Senegal, Guinea, Sierra Leone and S Mali E to South Sudan and NW & E Kenya, S to Angola, N & E Botswana and E South Africa (S to Eastern Cape); also lower Nile Valley (S from S Egypt), and discontinuously N & E Sudan, W Eritrea, NW, NE & S Ethiopia, and S Somalia.
  • M. a. aguimp Temminck, 1820 – R Orange and R Vaal drainages in S Namibia, C South Africa and Lesotho.
  • Descriptive notes

    20 cm; male 22–33 g, female 23–30 g. Male nominate race in breeding plumage has broad white supercilium from bill base to well behind eye, squarish white patch on... read more


    Song a sustained melodious series of whistling and piping notes, “weet-weet, wip-wip-wip,... read more


    In humid tropical regions occurs near human habitations, as at farms, in villages, on roofs and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet includes wide variety of small terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates, mainly insects. Recorded items include adult and larval flies (... read more


    Starts to breed prior to rains and continues into wet season: mostly Feb–May in W Africa, Oct–Apr in Nigeria, Aug and Dec... read more


    Largely resident; some movements, but not fully understood. Much local movement thought to take... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common and widespread in much of range, and generally tame and confiding; common to uncommon in W Africa. Locally common in S Sudan, but absent in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Tyler, S. (2019). African Pied Wagtail (Motacilla aguimp). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 6 December 2019).