Grey wagtail Motacilla cinerea, photographed by Phil Armitage.

Belongs within: Passeroidea.
Contains: Anthus, Motacilla flava.

The Motacillidae is a family of insectivorous, generally ground-feeding passerines, containing the pipits (Anthus), wagtails (Motacilla and Dendronanthus indicus) and longclaws (Macronyx). Motacillids have pointed wings with nine primaries, and long slender legs with partly scaled tarsi (Austin 1961). The wagtails get their name from their habit of continually bobbing their tails up and down; some wagtails are also strikingly patterned.

    |--Dendronanthus indicus WBSJ82, VP89
    |--Tmetothylacus tenellus JT12
    |--Anthus JF06
    `--Motacilla Linnaeus 1758 JF06, M02
         |  i. s.: M. grandis WBSJ82
         |         M. humata Milne-Edwards 1871 M02
         |         M. major Milne-Edwards 1871 M02
         |         M. samveasnae JT12
         |--+--M. flaviventris JF06
         |  `--+--M. capensis JF06
         |     `--M. clara JF06
         |          |--M. c. clara L03
         |          `--M. c. chapini Amadon 1954 L03
         `--+--M. aguimp JT12
            `--+--+--M. cinerea Tunstall 1771 JT12, L03
               |  |    |--M. c. cinerea [incl. M. boarula canariensis Hartert 1901] L03
               |  |    `--M. c. patriciae Vaurie 1957 L03
               |  `--M. madaraspatensis JT12
               `--+--+--M. alba Linnaeus 1758 JT12, L03
                  |  |    |--M. a. alba [incl. M. fasciata Brehm 1855 non Bechstein 1795] L03
                  |  |    |--M. a. baicalensis M03
                  |  |    |--M. a. leucopsis M03
                  |  |    |--M. a. ocularis M03
                  |  |    `--M. a. personater VP89
                  |  `--M. lugens JF06 [=M. alba lugens M03]
                  `--+--M. citreola JT12
                     `--M. flava JT12

*Type species of generic name indicated


Austin, O. L., Jr. 1961. Birds of the World: A survey of the twenty-seven orders and one hundred and fifty-five families. Paul Hamlyn: London.

[JT12] Jetz, W., G. H. Thomas, J. B. Joy, K. Hartmann & A. Ø. Mooers. 2012. The global diversity of birds in space and time. Nature 491: 444-448.

[JF06] Jønsson, K. A., & J. Fjeldså. 2006. A phylogenetic supertree of oscine passerine birds. Zoologica Scripta 35: 149-186.

[L03] LeCroy, M. 2003. Type specimens of birds in the American Museum of Natural History. Part 5. Passeriformes: Alaudidae, Hirundinidae, Motacillidae, Campephagidae, Pycnonotidae, Irenidae, Laniidae, Vangidae, Bombycillidae, Dulidae, Cinclidae, Troglodytidae, and Mimidae. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 278: 1-156.

[M02] Mlíkovský, J. 2002. Cenozoic Birds of the World. Part 1: Europe. Ninox Press: Praha.

[M03] Morcombe, M. 2003. Field Guide to Australian Birds, 2nd ed. Steve Parish Publishing.

[VP89] Viney, C., & K. Phillipps. 1989. Birds of Hong Kong 5th ed. Government Printer: Hong Kong.

[WBSJ82] Wild Bird Society of Japan. 1982. A Field Guide to the Birds of Japan. Kodansha International Ltd.: Tokyo.

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