Yellow Wagtails are fascinating. The males are striking yellow birds that light up any dull day. Furthermore they have a very wide distribution, which again means that there is a huge variation between different subspecies or races (some would even say species).
If we stick to adult males there are subspecies ranging from black to white-headed. There in between there are many shades of gray and yellow. No matter the head colour birds can show a white or sometimes yellow eyebrow/supercilium. The eyebrow can be anything from very strong to just a hint (or of course totally absent).
In Turkey you can see almost every combination imaginable on the thousands and thousands of Yellow Wagtails migrating through Turkey during spring.
The black-headed birds with an obvious supercilium are those turning up first (early/middle of march). which could indicate that they move the furthest north.
After that a lot of different variations turn up. In this blog I wish to share some of the types of Yellow Wagtails I’ve seen in Turkey.
To keep it simple let’s use the variations mentioned in Collin’s Birdguide.
Birds resembling the ssp. beema are regular, but not common in Turkey:
The same is the case for Dombrowskii-types. Their head is overall darker than ssp. beema and thge cheek is grey.
The superciliaris-types are not uncommon as there are individuals as dark as the feldeggs, but with an obvious supercilium. As there is a gradual movement from light grey to dark gray/black it is a bit difficult to place each and every bird in a specific category.
Feldegg is the black-headed type that breeds quite commonly in Central Anatolia. A good number show a white malar stribe. There birds are sometimes called melanogrisea.
Flava-types are also fairly regular migrants to Turkey.
Lutea is rather rare in Turkey, but I have seen 3 individuals. They are probably more common in the east.
Several birds seem to fit the thunbergi variation.
The book “Pipits and Wagtails” also mentions the xanthophrys as an integrade between lutea and feldegg. This variation is also regulas in Central Anatolia.
Then there are all the birds not really fitting the books:
No matter what I find the Yellow Wagtails of Central Anatolia to be very very interesting. Maybe it is close to impossible to make categories for all of them, but they are awesome anyways.
And just to add some more fun cosmic mind blowers also occur: