Grey Wagtail

Scientific Name: Motacilla cinerea

Malay Name: Pipit-Batu Pinggul Kuning

Chinese Name: 灰鹡鸰

Range: Found from NW Africa to NE Russia, northern Middle East, northern India, northern China, Korea and Japan with some populations wintering south to Africa, Middle East, Indian subcontinent, southern China and Southeast Asia.

Taxonomy: Polytypic. Subspecies are: patriciae, schmitzi, cinerea.

Local Subspecies: cinerea

Size: 17-20 cm

Identification: Non-breeding adult shows slaty-grey crown and upperparts, narrow whitish supercilium. Amount of yellow on underparts can be variable but generally retains bright yellow vent. Breeding male has all yellow underparts and distinctive black throat and upper breast. Juvenile resembles non-breeding adult but browner-tinged above. Compared to Eastern Yellow Wagtail in non-breeding plumage, has grey mantle, contrasting yellow rump and pinkish legs.

Similar looking species: Eastern Yellow Wagtail, Citrine Wagtail

Habitat: Fast flowing rocky streams and rivers, also wetlands and coasts in winter.

Behaviour/Ecology: Feeds on a variety of aquatic invertebrates including adult flies, mayflies, beetles, crustacea and molluscs. Has the longest tail of the wagtails and its tail is wagged continually.

Local Status: Uncommon migrant

Conservation Status: Least Concern (BirdLife International 2017)

Location: Along streams, ponds, drains and canals in Singapore. Found at Bukit Batok West, Rifle Range Link, Jurong Lake Garden, Buona Vista, Bishan Park and Admiralty Park.

Featured articles:

Migrant bar chart (see more bar charts):

Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
Estimated average number of individuals by week based on eBird data, Jul 2013 to Jun 2023
Peak week Oct 08-Oct 14
Early date 01 Jul 2018
Late date 18 Apr 2021
First arrivals appear from July onwards, but numbers grow sizeable from September onwards, which is when the Yishun HDB estate wagtail roost becomes a buzz of activity.


BirdLife International. (2017). Motacilla cinerea. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017. Accessed on 1 January 2023

Robson, C. (2014). Field guide to the birds of South-East Asia (Second Edition). Bloomsbury Publishing, London.

Wells, D. R. (1999). The Birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula (Vol. 1). Academic Press, London.

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