African Pied Wagtail (Motacilla aguimp)

It is black-and-white wagtail occurring in Africa, sporting distinct white wing panels and eyebrow and a distinct black patch on the throat. Pairs or family groups can be found in a broad range of habitats, even those altered by human activities. It runs on the ground as it pursues prey while its tail wags up and down in an elaborate manner, where it got its name.

Read further to know more about the African Pied Wagtail.

What is an African Pied Wagtail?

The African pied wagtail (Motacilla aguimp) or Africa wagtail is a bird species belonging to the family Motacillidae, along with with the longclaws and pipits. It is a ground-feeding insectivore in the Old World, and its common name was derived from its characteristic tail pumping quirk.

Its seven levels of classification are as follows:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Passeriformes

Family: Motacillidae

Genus: Motacilla

Species: M. aguimp

African Pied Wagtail Physical Description

African Pied Wagtail is a stunning black-and-white wagtail growing approximately 7.9 inches or 20 centimeters and weighing around 27 grams. These birds have black upperparts contrasted by white underparts, supercilium, a white spot on its folded wings. Bill is short, pointed, and thin. Legs and feet are black. Offsprings and immature birds tend to grayer.

Where can they be spotted?

African Pied Wagtails thrive in tropical and subtropical flooded or wet grasslands, rivers, streams, freshwater marshes. Certain groups occur in towns and villages and can be seen in ponds, dams, and wastewater treatment areas. The bird species can be found in much of Africa, from the Gambia to the Central African Republic, to Eritrea, down to South Africa.

Interesting Facts You Should Know About the African Pied Wagtail

African Pied Wagtail primarily feeds on insects, pursuing their prey on the ground by “run-picking”,  or catch them while in flight. They may also occasionally eat tadpoles, small fish, and seeds. These birds are not shy and may also be observed near homes and campsite, scavenging and taking scraps of human food.

While less common than the Cape Wagtail, African Pied Wagtails are very conspicuous and are easily detected through their booming piping call.

These birds usually breed before the start of the rainy season and will continue to breed up until its end, peaking from March to October. They are monogamous and will form strong bonds with their partners. Both sexes participate in constructing the cup-shaped nest, made of sticks and lined with grass and feathers. Nests are usually placed near water but may be found on buildings and infrastructure in settlement areas.

The female African pied wagtail typically lay a clutch consisting of 4 eggs, which she will solely incubate. After hatching, both sexes tend to and feed the broods. However, they are known to be parasitized by certain Cuckoo bird species.

African Pied Wagtails have a wide range and spread throughout much of Africa. They are currently classified under Least Concern (LC) under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.



Chobe National Park

Linyanti Swamp

Makgadikgadi Pan

Mashatu Game Reserve

Okavango Delta

Moremi Game Reserve



Addo Elephant National Park

Cape Peninsula National Park

Hluhluwe Game Reserves

Knysna Lagoon

Kruger National Park

St Lucia Wetlands



Lechwe Plains

Lower Zambezi

South Luangwa

Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park




Lake Kariba

Mana Pools

Matobo Hills

Victoria Falls


Pied Wagtail