Yellow Wagtails of Central Anatolia – Turkey

Yellow Wagtails - different variations

Yellow Wagtails – different variations

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:

Yellow Wagtail c5

Yellow Wagtail c11 Yellow Wagtail c12

Yellow Wagtail c13

Yellow Wagtail c14

Yellow Wagtail c16

The same is the case for Dombrowskii-types. Their head is overall darker than ssp. beema and thge cheek is grey.


Yellow Wagtail a33

Yellow Wagtail c15



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.


White Wagtail a1

Yellow wag a1

Yellow Wagtail b4

Yellow Wagtail b7

Yellow Wagtail b10

Yellow Wagtailc17

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.


Gul vip a2

Gul vip a3

Yellow Wagtail a1

Yellow Wagtail a3

Yellow Wagtail a6

Yellow Wagtail a8

Yellow Wagtail a10

Flava-types are also fairly regular migrants to Turkey.

Yellow Wagtail b5

Yellow Wagtail c1

Yellow Wagtail c2

Yellow Wagtail c3

Yellow Wagtail c4

Yellow Wagtail c7

Yellow Wagtail


Lutea is rather rare in Turkey, but I have seen 3 individuals. They are probably more common in the east.


Yellow wag 2

Yellow wag a3

Yellow Wag

Several birds seem to fit the thunbergi variation.

Yellow Wagtail b8

Yellow Wagtail e3

The book “Pipits and Wagtails” also mentions the xanthophrys as an integrade between lutea and feldegg. This variation is also regulas in Central Anatolia.

Yellow Wagtail b1

Yellow Wagtail b2

Yellow Wagtail b9

Then there are all the birds not really fitting the books:

Yellow Wagtail 1

Yellow Wagtail 2

Yellow Wagtail a5

Yellow Wagtail b3

Yellow Wagtail c8

Yellow Wagtail c9

Yellow Wagtail e1

Yellow Wagtail e2

Yellow Wagtail e4

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: