The Cape wagtail (Motacilla capensis) is a small passerine bird in the family Motacillidae, which includes the wagtails, pipits and longclaws.

This species breeds in much of Africa from eastern Zaire and Angola across to Kenya and south to the Cape in South Africa.



This is an insectivorous bird of open country, often near habitation and water. It prefers bare areas or short grass for feeding, where it can see and pursue its prey. In urban areas it has adapted to foraging in gardens or paved areas such as car parks. Pairs make bulky nests in crevices in natural and man-made structures, and lay up to seven eggs.

The Cape wagtail is a slender bird, 19–20 cm in length, with the characteristic longish, constantly wagging tail of its genus. The adult is plain grey-brown above, apart from pale wing edges and a short white supercilium. It has off-white underparts, with a dark grey band across the breast. Young birds are duller and have yellowish underparts. Cape wagtail has a tsee chee chee call and a trilled whistled song.

This wagtail forages energetically for insect on the ground, alone or in pairs, moving with a characteristic bobbing motion that causes the tail to swing up and down. Feeding is often near water, including garden ponds, and this bird will eat tadpoles or tiny fish if the opportunity arises.
Cape Wagtail
Date Location Count
2021-07-20 13:43Windhoek--Avis Dam8
2021-07-19 07:02Liuwa Plain NP1
2021-07-16 13:37Barotse Plains Causeway1
2021-07-26 12:45Buhoma Community Camp1
2021-07-02 17:03Bwindi-Impenetrable Forest NP--Entrance Road1
2021-07-25 14:27Kamiranzovu Marsh
2021-07-04 09:22Buhoma to 'The Neck'1
2021-07-05 11:00Nyamunini Island (Napoleon Hat)
2021-07-13 08:00Bwindi-Impenetrable NP (please be more specific)1
2021-07-04 09:53Lake Karago2
2021-07-18 09:05Bwindi-Impenetrable NP--Mubwindi Swamp2
2021-07-12 10:11Bwindi-Impenetrable NP--Ruhija Community Rest Camp2
2021-07-15 08:00Bwindi-Impenetrable NP--Ruhija1
2021-07-05 07:39Bwindi-Impenetrable Forest NP--Ruhija to Broadbill Walk2
2021-07-02 07:06Kamatana Dam2
2021-07-16 08:20Gashora Swamp1
2021-07-18 08:38Mabamba Swamp2
2021-07-11 11:50Island View Lodge8
2021-07-05 11:46Kalizo Lodge1
2021-07-18 15:44Chobe River--boat trip (Botswana)1
2021-06-27 08:20Victoria Falls Rain Forest2
2021-07-03 13:30Shoebill Camp Site
2021-07-06 13:07West Coast NP--Tsaarsbank2
2021-07-06 11:07West Coast NP--Geelbek hides vicinity2
2021-07-11 14:58Green Point Park1
2021-07-25 14:16Blouberg--Dolphin Beach3
2021-07-25 15:21Kirstenhof Wetland2
2021-07-19 12:37Majik Forest3
2021-07-04 19:15Silvermine River Wetlands1
2021-07-10 09:21Rondevlei Nature Reserve1
2021-07-24 10:28Table Mountain NP--Olifantsbos1
2021-07-07 16:32Boulders Beach6
2021-07-20 14:38Table Mountain NP--Cape Point Section7
2021-07-02 15:53Table Mountain NP--Buffels Bay4
2021-07-25 08:29Macassar Sewage Works4
2021-07-11 08:05Strand--Lourens River2
2021-07-16 16:53Manguo Swamp
2021-07-10 14:40Pollock Park2
2021-07-20 09:30Oloi Oshobor1
2021-07-18 10:26Rooi-Els1
2021-07-18 11:45Cape Hangklip10
2021-07-04 13:01Stony Point--Penguin Colony6
2021-07-01 06:30Kfeet, Wetlands & Lily Lake, Karura Forest1
2021-07-09 08:17Mogobane Reservoir1
2021-07-05 11:42Marataba Lodge
2021-07-25 09:18Dikhololo Game Reserve1
2021-07-14 13:21Hekpoort vicinity1
2021-07-08 15:12Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden2
2021-07-09 09:20Wilderness NP2
2021-07-13 10:46Kloofendal Municipal Nature Reserve1
2021-07-19 06:55Eagle Canyon Golf Estate2
2021-07-09 16:21The Lakes Park1
2021-07-23 14:43Dainfern1
2021-07-25 10:47Golden Harvest Park1
2021-07-25 15:34Norscot Koppies Kingfisher Nature Reserve2
2021-07-25 08:20Jukskei River1
2021-07-18 09:17Darrenwood Dam2
2021-06-27 08:30Rietvlei Nature Reserve1
2021-07-11 07:30Eikenhof1
2021-07-11 11:07Meyer's Farm
2021-07-18 09:00Polokwane GR1
2021-07-18 08:53Sunrock Guesthouse2
2021-07-15 08:06Kempton Park2
2021-07-24 06:49OR Tambo International Airport2
2021-06-27 12:52Goukamma Nature Reserve--Ferry Trailhead2
2021-07-10 16:08Goukamma Nature Reserve--dune trail and beach2
2021-07-25 07:30Thokoza Wetland3
2021-07-04 07:18Detweedespruit Conservancy1
2021-07-07 10:26Knysna--Belvidere Estate3
2021-07-18 11:43Woodbourne Pans2
2021-07-11 07:14Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve1
2021-07-02 08:59Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve--Ridge Top Drive1
2021-07-02 07:04Emily Moon River Lodge
2021-07-19 06:29Marievale Bird Sanctuary8
2021-07-25 11:11Robberg Nature Reserve2
2021-07-16 20:39Nature's Valley2
2021-07-25 06:37Loskop Dam Nature Reserve3
2021-07-19 08:30Leeupan (Mpumalanga Province)38
2021-07-02 10:30Maloti-Drakensberg Park--Royal Natal NP2
2021-07-14 13:37Dulini Private Game Reserve1
2021-07-14 09:18Kwandwe Private Game Reserve20
2021-07-03 13:10Kruger NP--Sunset Dam1
2021-07-25 12:45Kruger NP--Crocodile Bridge Camp2
2021-06-27 08:19Bushmans Nek2
2021-06-28 07:34Sani Pass (ZA)--low elevation (First 15km +-Sani Backpackers to ZA Border Post)1
2021-07-19 16:37Cedara Agricultural College Conservancy2
2021-07-17 09:58Macaneta-- Wetland, dune forests and coast1
2021-07-03 14:50Pietermaritzburg--Darvill Resources Park10
2021-07-06 17:16Pongola NR2
2021-07-08 15:30Eshowe--Birds of Paradise B&B2
2021-07-19 06:02Phinda GR
2021-07-05 09:50Nibela Floodplains7
2021-07-01 14:03St Lucia--iMfolozi River mouth4