Family Pipits and Wagtails (Motacillidae)

Least Concern

Eastern Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla tschutschensis)


French: Bergeronnette de Béringie German: Tschuktschenstelze Spanish: Lavandera de Chukotka

Motacilla tschutschensis

J. F. Gmelin

, 1789,

coast of Chukotskiy Peninsula


Until recently considered conspecific with M. flava, but remarkably distinct genetically#R#R#R, and (although showing no consistent diagnostic plumage characters) differs in its longer hind-claw#R (2); distinctive song, with faster pace (2), higher number of notes (3) and slightly higher minimum frequency (ns[2]); and subtle flight call differences#R (ns[1]). Some studies, using mitochondrial DNA, have suggested that present species might be separated into at least two—plexa and tschutschensis, and taivana plus macronyx—with first two closest to E nominate form of M. citreola and latter two closest to W race (M. c. werae). Race plexa judged too indistinct from race thunbergi of M. flava to recognize#R, but study in W Siberia (C Russia), near where birds genetically identified as plexa were collected, found that birds morphologically like thunbergi (i.e. arguably plexa and therefore presumably with longer claws than thunbergi) occupied bogs while beema co-occurred in floodplain grassland#R, suggesting two species involved, consistent with arrangement here. Race alascensis (W Alaska) synonymized with nominate; race simillima possibly better included in nominate, and angarensis in latter or in macronyx. Six subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. t. plexa (Thayer & Bangs, 1914) – N Siberia (R Khatanga E to R Kolyma); winters SE Asia, perhaps W to India.
  • M. t. tschutschensis J. F. Gmelin, 1789 – Eastern Yellow Wagtail – NE Siberia and extreme NW North America (N & W Alaska, extreme NW Canada); winters mainly SE Asia (E to Philippines, S to Indonesia).
  • M. t. simillima E. J. O. Hartert, 1905 – Kamchatka, N Kurils and Commander Is, and possibly Pribilofs and Aleutian Is; winters SE Asia and Philippines S to Sundas and Wallacea, and N Australia.
  • M. t. angarensis (Sushkin, 1925) – S Siberia and W Transbaikalia S to N Mongolia; winters SE Asia (Myanmar and Thailand E to SE China).
  • M. t. macronyx (Stresemann, 1920) – Mongolian Yellow Wagtail – SE Transbaikalia E to Amurland and Ussuriland, S to NE Mongolia and NC & NE China; winters SE Asia S to Malay Peninsula and SE China.
  • M. t. taivana (Swinhoe, 1863) – Green-headed Wagtail – SE Siberia, Amurland, Sakhalin and N Japan (N Hokkaido); winters Myanmar, S China and Taiwan S to Greater Sundas, Philippines and Wallacea.
  • Descriptive notes

    [Content coming soon]

    Recommended citation

    del Hoyo, J. & Collar, N. (2019). Eastern Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla tschutschensis). 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 25 March 2019).