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White Wagtail (Motacilla alba alba, Linnaeus 1758)
The White Wagtail is present almost everywhere in Europe. It is a small bird, with slender and elegant shape, long on average 18 cm and weights 23 grams. It has thin paws and a long and slender tail; the livery is grey but with white and black tones, more mixed in the male. Its flight is typically undulating since, as all Wagtails, it beats and closes alternately the wings. On the ground, it moves slowly and almost cadenced, giving the impression of making a dancing step under the rhythmic bending of the trunk and frequent oscillations of the tail, hence the Italian name “Ballerina” (dancer). It ‘a bird very active and restless, always moving. From the point of view of environmental preferences, it shows a certain link with wetlands such as rivers, streams and brooks but also frequents meadows, arable land, pastures and fields of the countryside in general, sometimes near human settlements. It feeds on insects and invertebrates that are captured, with considerable skill, in flight or on the grasses, sometimes seeds.
The nest, a massive cup of grasses, is usually built in small cavities such as holes in the walls or human artefacts but also in crevices between the rocks and natural cavities in trees; it carries out 2-3 broods per year and eggs, 4 to 6, are incubated for 12-14 days by the female only. Both parents take care of the young in the nest for about two weeks.