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Pipits and Wagtails: Motacillidae

Physical Characteristics, Geographic Range, Behavior And Reproduction, Pipits, Wagtails, Longclaws, And PeopleHABITAT, DIET, CONSERVATION STATUS

GRAY WAGTAIL (Motacilla cinerea): SPECIES ACCOUNTS
ROSY-BREASTED LONGCLAW (Macronyx ameliae): SPECIES ACCOUNTS
SPRAGUE'S PIPIT (Anthus spragueii): SPECIES ACCOUNTS

Most species live in open or semi-open country, and many prefer grassy areas such as fields and rocky meadows. Wagtails particularly favor streams, lake edges, rivers, and wetlands, while pipits search out open grasslands from sea level to as high as 17,400 feet (5,300 meters) in the Himalayas. Longclaws also tend to stick to open grasslands and the edges of wetlands.


All members of this family primarily eat insects and their eggs, from tiny midges to locusts and dragonflies. Their favorite foods seem to be beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, ants, wasps, praying mantids, and termites. Some species also eat aquatic insects, seeds, berries, plant parts and carrion, dead and decaying meat.


With the destruction and degradation of many grassland and wetland, available habitats have decline for Motacillidae populations. As a result, two species have been listed as Endangered, facing a very high risk of extinction, dying out, by the World Conservation Union (IUCN); three species have been designated as Vulnerable, facing a high risk of extinction; and five species are Near Threatened, in danger of becoming threatened with extinction.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirds