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
2020-02-16 08:36Swakopmund (general area)10
2020-02-17 09:14Walvis Bay--salt pans25
2020-02-16 11:43Goanikontes Oasis2
2020-02-10 06:41Windhoek--Hosea Kutako Airport1
2020-01-22 07:52Bisate Lodge
2020-02-05 07:21Nyabarongo River
2020-02-11 18:50Quivertree Forest Rest Camp1
2020-02-03 13:30Chobe NP--A33 (Ngoma to Kasane)2
2020-02-06 09:04Chobe River--Boat Trip (Namibia)1
2020-02-06 09:04Chobe River--boat trip (Botswana)1
2020-01-30 10:40High Altitude Training Centre1
2020-02-12 10:37Paternoster
2020-02-04 16:00R399--Vredenburg to Paternoster2
2020-01-31 14:38Berg River Estuary1
2020-02-12 11:35Kliphoek Salt Pans1
2020-02-15 09:16West Coast NP--Geelbek hides vicinity
2020-02-04 07:59Darling Hills/Groote Post Road2
2020-02-02 12:21Bloubergstrand
2020-02-07 11:00Cape Town--Sea Point12
2020-02-14 08:45Rondevlei Nature Reserve4
2020-02-03 07:42Strandfontein WTP46
2020-02-02 16:00Boulders Beach2
2020-01-30 16:30Paardevlei2
2020-02-08 15:36Dick Dent Bird Sanctuary2
2020-01-26 07:33Helderberg Nature Reserve3
2020-02-02 09:37Strand Beach (Btwn Beach Rd and Dolfyn St.)2
2020-02-03 11:00Stony Point--Penguin Colony7
2020-02-14 21:10Harold Porter Botanical Gardens1
2020-02-05 17:10Swellendam (general area)2
2020-02-06 02:22Bontebok NP3
2020-01-29 08:35Benfontein Nature Reserve1
2020-02-17 08:00Karoo NP--Klipspringer Pass Road2
2020-02-01 05:45Zaagkuildrift Rd (Please be more specific)2
2020-02-09 07:59Soutpan1
2020-02-08 07:31Soetdoring Nature Reserve3
2020-02-16 06:41Diepsloot Nature Reserve3
2020-02-02 10:34Rooiwal WTP1
2020-02-16 06:49Eagle Canyon Golf Estate2
2020-02-13 17:36Candlewoods Wetland2
2020-01-28 10:00Pretoria National Botanical Garden2
2020-02-09 11:14Free State Botanical Gardens9
2020-02-15 05:43Rietvlei Nature Reserve4
2020-02-08 16:28OR Tambo International Airport1
2020-01-20 09:16Korsman Bird Sanctuary2
2020-02-16 09:12Rustfontein Nature Reserve4
2020-01-25 12:47Qodesh Campground1
2020-02-16 07:50Nature's Valley4
2020-01-25 02:50Loskop Dam Nature Reserve2
2020-02-03Hannah Game Lodge2
2020-01-23 00:59Cape St Frances
2020-01-20 11:26Gamtoos Reiver Mouth2
2020-02-09 06:05Addo Elephant NP--Main Rest Camp2
2020-02-18 17:20Wakkerstroom Wetlands--Clive Beck Hide2
2020-01-26 09:00Sani Pass (LS)1
2020-02-16 16:44Highmoor NR3
2020-01-25 06:00Sani Lodge Backpackers1
2020-02-01 10:28Karkloof Conservancy2
2020-01-26 14:00Midmar Dam - South Shore (Thurlow Gate)1
2020-02-05 08:45Cedara Agricultural College Conservancy1