dipper pied yellow wagtail The wagtails form the passerine bird genus Motacilla. They are small birds with long tails which they

- Image ID: B6YAAD
19th era / Alamy Stock Photo
Image ID: B6YAAD
The wagtails form the passerine bird genus Motacilla. They are small birds with long tails which they wag frequently. Motacilla, the root of the family and genus name, means moving tail. The Forest Wagtail belongs to the monotypic genus Dendronanthus which is closely related to Motacilla and sometimes included herein. The Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys) of Australia is an unrelated bird similar in colouration and shape to the Japanese Wagtail. It belongs to the fantail flycatchers. Wagtails are slender, often colourful, ground-feeding insectivores of open country in the Old World. They are ground nesters, laying up to six speckled eggs at a time.[citation needed] Among their most conspicuous behaviours is a near constant tail wagging, a trait that has given the birds their common name. In spite of the ubiquity of the behaviour and observations of it, the reasons for it are poorly understood. It has been suggested that it may flush up prey, or that it may signal submissiveness to other wagtails. Recent studies have suggested instead that it is a signal of vigilance that may aid to deter potential predators