Monday, March 28, 2016

A Spotted Wagtail?

Anyone got some suggestions?

I photographed this Willie Wagtail at Wonthaggi some weeks back and the white spots on the wings are bothering me.

A quick scan of a few field guides produced a nil result. No mention of white spots in the wing. A Google Image scan produced one or two images of WW’s with some smudgy/indistinct wing markings but the relevant web pages made no mention.

These are very distinct and sharp spots!?

Grey Fantails can have white tips to their wing coverts but they appear as thin white lines, not spots.

I guess I just put it down to another aberration in the bird world.


  1. Hi Peter, this is peculiar. It does look like a juvenile but usually the wing spots on Willies are pale and not as distinct. Looking at the mottled throat makes me think juvenile too. There are quite a few images on a google search of juveniles which look similar.


  2. I concur Craig,
    Probably a juvenile with distinct markings - I'd just never noticed it before and my initial quick scan of the field guides didn't produce much evidence. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Hi again Pete. I have run this image past the Brain's Trust here at Bowra who are into the fifth day of the annual banding program. The consensus after consultation with HANZAB and Bird in the Hand is that this is probably a juvenile going immature bird who has the black throat feathers of the immature growing through the white throat feathers of the juvenile but old enough to have lost the yellow gape. The white dots on the primary coverts are retained until the adult plumage but are "normally" off-white/buff.

    However the very black head is adult-ish!!

    If it is okay with you, I will post these two images on the Facebook page "Australian Bird Identification".

    So a bit of a conundrum really.