Motacilla alba 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Passeriformes Motacillidae

Scientific Name: Motacilla alba Linnaeus, 1758
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English White Wagtail, Pied Wagtail and White Wagtail
French Bergeronnette grise
Taxonomic Source(s): Cramp, S. and Simmons, K.E.L. (eds). 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Symes, A., Temple, H., Ashpole, J
This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Countries occurrence:
Afghanistan; Albania; Algeria; Andorra; Armenia; Austria; Azerbaijan; Bahrain; Bangladesh; Belarus; Belgium; Benin; Bhutan; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Burkina Faso; Cambodia; Cameroon; Cape Verde; Central African Republic; Chad; China; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Croatia; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Denmark; Djibouti; Egypt; Eritrea; Estonia; Ethiopia; Faroe Islands; Finland; France; Gambia; Georgia; Germany; Ghana; Gibraltar; Greece; Greenland; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Hong Kong; Hungary; Iceland; India; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Ireland; Israel; Italy; Japan; Jordan; Kazakhstan; Kenya; Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Korea, Republic of; Kuwait; Kyrgyzstan; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Latvia; Lebanon; Libya; Liechtenstein; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Macao; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Malaysia; Mali; Malta; Mauritania; Mexico; Moldova; Mongolia; Montenegro; Morocco; Myanmar; Nepal; Netherlands; Niger; Nigeria; Norway; Oman; Pakistan; Palestinian Territory, Occupied; Philippines; Poland; Portugal; Qatar; Romania; Russian Federation (Central Asian Russia, Eastern Asian Russia, European Russia); San Marino; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; Serbia; Sierra Leone; Singapore; Slovakia; Slovenia; Somalia; South Sudan; Spain; Sri Lanka; Sudan; Svalbard and Jan Mayen; Sweden; Switzerland; Syrian Arab Republic; Taiwan, Province of China; Tajikistan; Thailand; Tunisia; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Uganda; Ukraine; United Arab Emirates; United Kingdom; United States; Uzbekistan; Viet Nam; Western Sahara; Yemen
Australia; Brunei Darussalam; Burundi; Canada; Comoros; Gabon; Northern Mariana Islands; Palau; Saint Pierre and Miquelon; Seychelles; Tanzania, United Republic of; Togo; Trinidad and Tobago
Present - origin uncertain:
Guam; Rwanda; Zambia; Zimbabwe
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:91800000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Upper elevation limit (metres):5000
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Rich et al. (2004) estimated the global population to number 200,000 individuals. In Europe, the breeding population is estimated to number 16,900,000-27,600,000 pairs, which equates to 33,900,000-55,200,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms c.25% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 135,000,000-221,000,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.

Trend Justification:  In Europe the overall trend for 1980-2013 was stable (EBCC 2015).
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:130000000-229999999Continuing decline of mature individuals:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species inhabits a very wide variety of non-forested wet and dry habitats, including seashores, rocky or sandy upland rivers and slow-moving lowland rivers, lakeshores, farmland, gardens, parks, short grassland such as that found in vicinity of factories in towns and cities. It is also often found in towns and villages. It mostly breeds from early April to August, starting later in the north. It is monogamous and both sexes build the nest which is a rough cup of twigs, grass stems, leaves, rootlets and mosses, lined with hair, wool or feathers and placed in a hole or crevice in a riverbank, wall or bridge. It also often nests in buildings or even machinery. Clutches are three to eight eggs. It feeds on a wide range of small terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates, as well as fish fry, crumbs and other household scraps. Most populations are regular long-distance migrants, others are partial migrants or largely resident. In western and southern Europe some populations of the nominate race and of yarrellii are resident but northern populations of the latter are partial migrants (Tyler 2016).
Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Unknown
Generation Length (years):4.2
Movement patterns:Full Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Climate change is thought to affect the timing of migration for this species (Ahas and Aasa 2006, Sokolov and Gordienko 2008, Kullberg et al. 2015).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
Bern Convention Appendix II. There are currently no known conservation measures for this species.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Further research into the effects of climate change on this species should be undertaken.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2016. Motacilla alba. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22718348A88050593. . Downloaded on 16 August 2018.
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