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These adorable little birds are a common sight in urban areas. Often spotted zipping across car parks, pavements, and rooftops with their jolly wagging tails in search of insects, they are fairly easy to identify.
Pied wagtails are small grey and black birds with a wagging tail. Females are a darker shade of grey, with a black crown, breast, throat, tail, and rump. In the summer males have a white forehead, cheeks, and belly, with a black head, mantle, breast, and throat. Their back is grey, and turns a darker grey during the winter, with a white throat.
Their primary food is insects; they love to peck away at the smaller insects that other birds would usually overlook. However, they will happily eat seed.
Breeding begins around May, with two broods per season. Clutches tend to have between 5-6 eggs, and incubate for around 12-14 days; the chicks fledge at 13-16 days. The pied wagtail tends to make its nest low in bushes. Females build a cup-like nest made up of dried grass, rootlets, and hair.
Pied wagtails like to form large roosts in city centres at night to keep warm. It is thought they also do this to protect each other from nocturnal predators such as owls.
The white wagtail is similar in markings and build, but the pied wagtail is more widespread in the UK, and has darker upper parts. The white wagtail is more grey in colour than black. The pied wagtail is also a subspecies of the white wagtail.