Grey Wagtail

Irish Name: Glasóg liath
Scientific name: Motacilla cinerea
Bird Family: Wagtails
Conservation status


A widespread resident along fast flowing streams and rivers throughout Ireland


Slightly larger than Pied Wagtail. A very striking bird, with the dark grey head and back offfset by extensive yellow on the breast, belly and vent. The rump is also bright yellow. Grey Wagtails also have a black throat, as well as a white stripe through the eye. The beak and legs are dark grey, the latter with a variable pinkish tinge. The yellow wash on the lower body is less intense on female birds, while juveniles lack the black throat patch and have the yellow restricted to the vent and rump. Juvenile Grey Wagtails also have pink legs and bill in contrast to the adults.


The main call is similar to that of the Pied Wagtail, though slightly higher pitched "ti-zick". The song is a repeated "zri-zri-zri" delivered from a perch.


Grey Wagtails feed mainly on insects caught on the ground or in flight.


Breeds mainly along streams and rivers, frequently building its nest under a bridge.


Generally sedentary. Some birds move to coastal areas, especially those where large amounts of seaweed have washed up.

Monitored by

Countryside Bird Survey and BirdTrack.

Similar Species

Pied Wagtail

Irish Name:
Glasóg shráide
Scientific name:
Motacilla alba yarrellii
Bird Family: