Every spring we await the arrival of the White Wagtail in the garden. It seems that the same pair comes here year after year. And we celebrate its arrival by putting out wholemeal biscuits which are its favourite. At least that is what we think. And every year they build their nest in the spruce and perhaps it is the same tree every year.
We love having this pair of White Wagtails in the garden. These are such lively birds to watch as they trail their long tails in undulating flight around the trees and wag their long tails and dash about in the garden.
It is also very interesting to see the male court the female. It points its bill upwards and zigzags about, moving up and down, and spreading its tail.
Insects are its main feed and they can often be seen catching flies and spiders in flight. Both parents take part in the nesting and in feeding the hatchlings.
This spring they arrived on April 22. They started making their nest the next day which took about two week. Now the eggs have hatch and the parents diligently feed the young ones. Bringing them insects, flies, larva and spiders. The eggs are usually four to six, can be up to eight, so if all have hatched the parents have their work cut out for them for the next two to three weeks.
The White Wagtail is one of the migratory birds whose arrival is looked forward to in Iceland in spring.
Year after year the same White Wagtail pair breed in our garden, – at least we like to think so. Being migrants they come for the summer and by now they have bred and their offsprings chase them around the garden. The young ones whine for food, or just attention. It is interesting to observe their agile flying skills to catch insects, spiders and the like. They even grab the occasional seed from the feeders.
The White Wagtail’s winter grounds are in West Africa and most arrive back in Iceland in the end of April or beginning of May. The Icelandic breeding population counts around 50,000 pairs.
There are still some summer birds around although most have migrated to warmer climates. The weather has been exceptionally good, no harsh autumn winds yet and the temperature a bit higher than the average. No need to rush when life is so good.
These are two of the guests that still honour us with their presence.
In our last Wagtail blog the White Wagtail had its beak full of nesting material. Now it has its beak full of flies and larva for its young ones. We have not spotted the chicks yet but they stay in the nest until they can fly. The Wagtail lays eggs only once each summer, not twice or three times like the Thrushes.
The White Wagtail pair is building a nest in a big spruce tree in the garden, the same tree as in recent years. This is the female collecting horse hair that will in all probability serve as a lining inside the nest.
In the last few days a few White Wagtails have been in the garden seeking shelter and food. Crushed wholemeal biscuits have turned out to be their favorite food in the frost and wind. They also look for spiders on the sides of the house and in trees.
The White Wagtail (Motacilla alba) is a beautiful little bird that constantly wags its long tail. It is quite noticeable dashing about in the garden in the summer time. The Wagtail is one of the migratory birds which arrival is looked forward to in the spring.
We like the Wagtail a lot and there is usually a pair with a nest in the garden every year. It quite likes the oatmeal biscuits we feed it.