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Madagascar Wagtail - BirdForum Opus

Photo by James Williams
Near Antananarivo, Madagascar, June 2007
Motacilla flaviventris


19cm. The ony wagtail in Madagascar.

  • Grey head and upperparts
  • Narrow white supercilium
  • Small white crescent under eye
  • White throat and underparts, washed lemon-yellow on belly and flanks
  • Narrow black breastband

Females and immatures are paler than males.


Endemic to Madagascar.
Common and widespread on the island, rare in the south.


This is a monotypic species.
The described race icetria from south-central Madagascar is usually not accepted.


Found near water in open areas, usually near lakes and rivers, in marshes, paddyfields and fish ponds. Also on beaches.
Occurs from sea-level up to 2600m.


Feeds mainly on insects and spiders, takes also other small invertebrates.
Forages on the ground, does sometimes flutter up and snatches an insect in the air.
Breeding season from August to November, usually two broods. The nest is a bulky structure made of twigs, stems and mosses. It's placed low in a tree fork, a bush, a rock crevice or under a house roof, usually near water. Lays 2 eggs, sometimes more.
Some movements recorded. Obviously leaves the high plateau in austral winter.


  1. Clements, JF. 2011. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to August 2011. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019. Spreadsheet available at http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/downloadable-clements-checklist
  2. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliot, and D Christie, eds. 2004. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 9: Cotingas to Pipits and Wagtails. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8487334696

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