Cape Wagtail (Afr: Gewone Kwikkie)
A familiar, grey and white bird with a longish tail. Size
19-20cm - about the size of a sparrow, but more slender with a
The Cape Wagtail is a brownish-grey
and white bird, with a longish tail and a short, straight and
pointed bill. The bill, legs and feet are all blackish.
The upper parts are brownish grey with white marks on the wing
feathers. The top of the head is grey-brown and it has a white
eyebrow. The underparts whitish, with more greyish colour on the
flanks. There is a narrow grey breast band, which forms a "v" shape.
The outer tail feathers are whitish, and are visible in flight
This is a common and familiar bird of gardens and the urban areas in
general, showing a particular affinity for lawns and man-made water
features. It is seen singly, in pairs or family parties, but may
occur in loose flocks when not breeding. It walks purposefully along
the ground, and wags it's tail deeply when standing still, or
landing on something. It is often associated with water, and forages
along the edges of dams, rivers and streams, even catching prey from
the water surface. It often chases into the air after insects and
sings from a raised perch - such as the top of a roof.
The Cape Wagtail is very sensitive to the use of pesticides in
insect control and may disappear from areas where pesticides are
The Cape Wagtail nests all year around, but mainly in the summer
months. It builds a nest which has a neat cup situated at the top of
a bulky foundation of grass, weeds, rags and rootlets. The nest is
usually placed in a hole in a stream bank, wall, under the eaves of
a building on the ground or in almost any suitable locality.
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