Large pied wagtail, the specie name Motacilla madaraspatensisis is derived from the Indian city of
The name "pied" comes from the bird's black-and-white coloration and "wagtail" from the perpetual "wagging" of its tail. The reason for wagging the tail of wagtail species is not much understood (motacilla means moving tail). It has been suggested that it may flush up prey, or that it may signal submissiveness to other wagtails. Recent studies have suggested instead that it is a signal of vigilance that may aid to deter potential predators. Large pied Wagtail resembles Magpie Robin a lot and few years back I used to confuse with it, the distinctive feature is its prominent white eyebrow (therefore also referred to as White browed Wagtail). This slender confiding bird is well adapted to urban habitat but prefers areas in vicinity to water; generally feeding on ground insects it could be seen darting around in gardens, probably the only resident wagtail in Indian plain. It’s a delight to watch this sprightly bird as it flits for insects, the black and white plumage gives it a neat formal look. Here an old Irish rhyme I came across in the net:
Wee Mister Wagtail, hopping on a rock,
Daddy says your pretty tail is like a Goblin's clock.
Wee Willie Wagtail, how I love to see,
Wee Willie Wagtail, wag his tail at me.
Wee Mister Wagtail, running by a pond,
Daddy says your pretty tail is like a Goblin's wand.
The painting here is from John Gould (1804-1881). Gould was an amazing man and was responsible for 3000odd exquisite hand colored lithographic plates of birds and animals. In his pursuit of new and different birds, John Gould traveled to Asia,