Family Pipits and Wagtails (Motacillidae)

Least Concern

Mountain Wagtail (Motacilla clara)


French: Bergeronnette à longue queue German: Langschwanzstelze Spanish: Lavandera clara

Motacilla clara


, 1908,

Simien Mountains, north Ethiopia


Initially named as M. longicauda, but that name invalid, as preoccupied. Race chapini possibly inseparable from torrentium. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. c. chapini Amadon, 1954 – Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and W Ivory Coast, and from SE Nigeria and Cameroon S to Gabon and E to Central African Republic and N & S Congo; also Bioko.
  • M. c. clara Sharpe, 1908 – highlands of Ethiopia; recorded in Eritrea#R.
  • M. c. torrentium Ticehurst, 1940 – E & SW Uganda, C & S Kenya, and from E & S DRCongo, Rwanda and N Tanzania S to C & SW Angola (S to Namibe), Zambia, N Zimbabwe and W Mozambique, also in mountains of E South Africa and Swaziland.
  • Descriptive notes

    17–19 cm; male 15–21·5 g, female 15–24·5 g. Graceful, long-tailed wagtail with much white in tail. Has narrow white supercilium ending just... read more


    Song a quiet, sustained series of trilled musical phrases and short notes, “ti-tuu-ui-tui-tui... read more


    Fast-flowing, rocky forested streams and rivers in lowlands and mountains, to at least 2000 m;... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly insects such as flies (Diptera), especially midges (Chironomidae) and empids (Empidae), blackflies (Simuliidae), also nymphal and... read more


    Breeds in Jan–Apr and Sept–Nov in Ethiopia, in all months in Tanzania, in Mar and Jul–Nov in Malawi, and in May and Aug... read more


    Sedentary on permanent streams in Ethiopia; believed to be nomadic in E & S Africa, and... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Frequent on suitable watercourses through much of range. Possibly occurs also in S Sudan (Imatongs) and Eritrea. No evidence of any change in status... read more

    Recommended citation

    Tyler, S. (2019). Mountain Wagtail (Motacilla clara). 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).