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
2021-02-23 07:06Arebbusch Lodge2
2021-02-17 08:00Bwindi-Impenetrable Forest NP--Buhoma2
2021-02-06 07:30Amajambere Iwacu Community Camp2
2021-01-28 16:10Nyungwe Forest NP2
2021-02-13 10:00Echuya Forest Reserve2
2021-02-20 07:49Nyabarongo River @ RN12
2021-02-24 05:29Okavango Delta--Mombo/Little Mombo Camp1
2021-02-08 08:30Mabamba Swamp--Main channel1
2021-02-09 15:22Cape Columbine Nature Reserve10
2021-02-21 11:41Kliphoek Salt Pans5
2021-02-23 11:55West Coast NP2
2021-02-08 09:53West Coast NP--Geelbek hides vicinity2
2021-02-07 13:21West Coast NP--Abrahamskraal hide1
2021-02-25 18:03St Andrews Turi, KE (-0.279, 35.764)2
2021-02-15 07:48Darling (general area)8
2021-02-13 16:59Sout River Mouth2
2021-02-15 12:42Rietvlei Wetlands Reserve20
2021-02-14 13:41Woodbridge Island1
2021-02-12 17:21Intaka Island3
2021-02-14 10:13Kirstenhof Wetland3
2021-02-24 08:30Rondevlei Nature Reserve1
2021-02-19 12:25Strandfontein WTP5
2021-02-14 13:02Table Mountain NP--Cape Point Section1
2021-01-29 07:15Babylonstoren Farm2
2021-02-21 16:48Macassar Sewage Works
2021-02-05 07:20Koloniesland Trail3
2021-02-25 08:07Strand Beach (Btwn Beach Rd and Dolfyn St.)2
2021-02-06 13:57Betty's Bay (general area)10
2021-02-12 13:37Stony Point--Penguin Colony4
2021-01-29 08:58Kogelberg Nature Reserve--lower Palmiet River trail (start to junction)1
2021-01-28 09:05Palmiet River Lagoon1
2021-02-20 09:47Rooisand Nature Reserve15
2021-02-21 09:59Bot River Bridge (R43)3
2021-02-07 07:38Mt. Kenya NP--Castle Forest and Lodge1
2021-01-31 18:23Klein River lagoon1
2021-02-10 17:36Sandberg Fynbos Reserve2
2021-02-05 16:01Karoo NP--Main Rest Camp2
2021-02-06 10:37Karoo NP--Bird Hide2
2021-02-09 09:02Kgomo-Kgomo1
2021-02-05 07:30Zaagkuildrift Rd (Please be more specific; Do not log Kgomo-Kgomo birds here.)3
2021-02-06 17:43Karoo Gariep Nature Reserve2
2021-02-11 09:40Houtrivier Dam1
2021-02-12 17:19Diepsloot Nature Reserve2
2021-02-08 08:53Wilderness NP2
2021-02-19 08:00Eagle Canyon Golf Estate1
2021-02-20 12:51Dainfern2
2021-02-17 11:45Norscot Koppies Kingfisher Nature Reserve1
2021-02-14 06:18Roodeplaat Dam Nature Reserve1
2021-02-20 10:40Zebra Country Lodge1
2021-02-14 14:00Rietvlei Nature Reserve1
2021-01-30 07:30Eikenhof2
2021-02-02 13:00Kempton Park1
2021-02-14 06:14Mkhombo Nature Reserve1
2021-02-22 18:03Bonaero Pan1
2021-01-31 16:50Thokoza Wetland2
2021-01-30 08:28Sebayeng Wetland1
2021-01-28 07:50Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve--North Entrance Gate1
2021-02-13 12:54Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve3
2021-02-15 15:51Plettenberg Bay--Uplands Road1
2021-02-05 06:44Garingboom Guest Farm1
2021-02-12 07:48Bitou River Valley14
2021-02-12 10:12Piesang Valley and Estuary3
2021-02-13 07:38Keurbooms River Estuary4
2021-02-12 16:24Robberg Nature Reserve1
2021-01-30 06:30Devon Grasslands IBA (Mpumalanga Province)2
2021-02-15 06:30Leeupan (Mpumalanga Province)18
2021-02-19 18:31Mountain Zebra NP--Restcamp1
2021-01-31 16:17Alzu Rest Stop4
2021-02-20 15:28Wonderfontein Pans1
2021-01-28 06:37Kabeljous Estuary1
2021-02-11 06:27Hazyview--Kruger Park Lodge1
2021-02-12 17:48Volksrust1
2021-02-08 06:18Wakkerstroom area (Please be more specific)3
2021-02-15 06:54Wakkerstroom bridge/causeway2
2021-01-31 06:04Hamburg Estuary26
2021-02-13 14:54Karkloof--Conservancy
2021-02-21 14:19Midmar Dam--North Shore (Main Gate)2
2021-02-07 06:23Midmar Dam--South Shore (Thurlow Gate)1
2021-01-31 05:45Karkloof--Mbona Mountain Estate3
2021-02-20 05:22Cedara Agricultural College Conservancy1
2021-02-06 14:55Hilton--Mondi Forests2
2021-02-10 07:55KaMsholo Bushveld Safaris (formerly Nisela Safaris)1
2021-02-12 00:00Pietermaritzburg--General area2
2021-02-13 06:39Pietermaritzburg--Bisley Road1
2021-02-14 08:47Tala Private GR1
2021-02-21 11:33Eshowe--Dlinza Forest2
2021-02-19 05:54Sappi Stanger2
2021-02-05 12:43Mdloti Lagoon1
2021-02-07 13:00Umdloti Beach
2021-02-06 05:08Umhlanga Lagoon NR3
2021-02-10 10:33Zimbali Country Resort5
2021-02-01 15:00Mtunzini (general area)
2021-02-16 09:00Dunes de Dovela2