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White Wagtail (Motacilla alba), Ajo Sewage Ponds, Pima County

This White Wagtail was found and photographed by Doug Backlund on 29 March and was also photographed by Anonymous on 29 March and by Chris McCreedy, Christie Van Cleve, and John Yerger on 31 March 2017

In North America, White Wagtail breeds in extreme western Alaska. It is a very rare vagrant to southern California and western Mexico. California has six spring records, between 26 April and 22 May, including two inland. There are also spring records from Nevada, New Mexico, and Sonora. There is one prior record from Arizona, of one at the Grand Canyon in October 1985.

This bird appears to be in nearly complete alternate plumage. Note the black crown and nape, black eyeline continuing through lores, broad white forehead and supercilium, large black "bib," gray mantle and scapulars, bold white wing panel (notably not including the median coverts), clean white underparts, and long tail (which was frequently wagged up and down).

Two subspecies may occur, previously considered separate species: "Black-backed" M. a. lugens and "White" M. a. ocularis. Most inland and spring records from the Southwest are of the subspecies lugens. The main differences include the color of the rump, remiges, and median coverts, with significant variation by age and sex. On this individual, the dark rump contrasting with the back but blending with the dark tail suggests lugens. Additional comments are welcome.

29 March 2017, photo by Doug Backlund

29 March 2017, photo by Anonymous

 

31 March 2017, photo by Chris McCreedy

 

31 March 2017, photo by Christie Van Cleve


31 March 2017, photo by John Yerger

All photos are copyrighted© by photographer

Submitted on 02 April 2017

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