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
2020-09-14 14:32Mukungwa River (SE of Ruhengeri)2
2020-09-05 20:26Onseepkans12
2020-09-14 12:25Augrabies Falls NP16
2020-09-04 02:55Bird Island NP1
2020-08-27 15:22Jacobs Bay2
2020-09-08 06:49Keimoes1
2020-09-07 08:00Kuifkopvisvanger Farm
2020-09-19 11:27West Coast NP--Geelbek hides vicinity2
2020-09-19 11:55West Coast NP--Geelbek Salt Pans4
2020-09-04 09:25West Coast NP--Abrahamskraal hide2
2020-08-26 10:39West Coast NP--West Coast Gate
2020-09-03 16:32Blouberg--Dolphin Beach4
2020-09-22 09:05Rietvlei Wetlands Reserve1
2020-09-08 17:08Raapenberg Bird Sanctuary1
2020-08-24 11:37Intaka Island2
2020-09-06 13:52Kommetjie2
2020-08-27 07:44Kirstenhof Wetland2
2020-09-05 10:57Rondevlei Nature Reserve1
2020-09-21 13:28Strandfontein WTP1
2020-09-12 09:00Paarl Bird Sanctuary
2020-09-22 17:53Mitchell's Pass2
2020-09-09 12:21Paardevlei1
2020-09-13 08:33Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve2
2020-09-01 07:32De Hoop Nature Reserve2
2020-08-27 15:32Marataba Lodge1
2020-08-29 07:30Pilanesberg NP--Mankwe Dam3
2020-09-05 07:08Borakalalo NP1
2020-09-12 09:37Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve1
2020-09-21 06:32Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden1
2020-09-15 09:26Little Falls Nature Reserve3
2020-09-18 16:27Kloofendal Municipal Nature Reserve1
2020-09-16 07:10Eagle Canyon Golf Estate2
2020-09-03 07:34Wilderness NP--Half-collared Kingfisher trail3
2020-09-17 06:33Parys area5
2020-08-31 17:11Delta Park2
2020-09-13 09:30Faerie Glen Nature Reserve2
2020-09-09 09:56Rietvlei Nature Reserve--Island View2
2020-09-22 09:44Rietvlei Nature Reserve1
2020-09-03 14:48Rietvlei Nature Reserve--Fern Fountain1
2020-08-27 10:58Kempton Park1
2020-09-20 06:40Thokoza Wetland1
2020-09-21 18:13Knysna--Belvidere Estate2
2020-09-11 05:30Detweedespruit--Eastern side2
2020-08-26 14:51Steenbock Nature Reserve4
2020-09-02 07:27Vaal Dam grasslands1
2020-09-19 07:03Bronkhorstspruit Dam4
2020-09-12 10:18Mabusa Nature Reserve1
2020-09-13 06:01Marievale Bird Sanctuary2
2020-08-29 07:10Ezemvelo Nature Reserve1
2020-09-05 14:35Loskop Dam Nature Reserve1
2020-09-06 07:00Leeupan (Mpumalanga Province)2
2020-09-18 07:28Zuurbron farm1
2020-09-03 08:19Cape St Frances2
2020-08-26 06:00Kaapsehoop, Dandelion Cottage
2020-08-25 06:57Kaapschehoop/Blue Swallow Reserve2
2020-08-25 08:00Nduma--Grasslands/Wetlands1
2020-09-02 09:25Hawane Reservoir4
2020-08-24 12:42Giants Castle GR - Injisuthi2
2020-09-08 13:15Matsapha Sewage Ponds2
2020-08-30 10:00Mahamba Gorge1
2020-08-29 07:10Albert Falls NR7
2020-09-20 07:04Pietermaritzburg - Darvill Resources Park1
2020-09-20 07:50Eshowe - Brocklee Dam3
2020-08-24 06:15Mpempe Pan2
2020-09-04 07:00St Lucia - iMfolozi River mouth2