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Various Yellow Wagtail subspecies, Italy April 2023 (1 Viewer)


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I am finally getting around to posting some photos of the various subspecies of Yellow Wagtail that we saw during the Easter break on Ventotene island, off the coast south of Rome. We have ideas but some look like intergrades of some sort and additional opinions would be very welcome.
  • 1 and 2: aberrant feldegg, or extremely rare xanthophrys?
  • 3 and 3bis: flava? We are confused by the very narrow supercilium
  • 4 again just a plain flava? The almost black ear coverts had us thinking about dombrovskii or tschutschensis?
  • 5, we have this down as a cinereocapilla, the subspecies we are most familiar with, due to the white throat
  • 6 and 7, bad shots of two different females - impossible to identify for us
  • 8 and 9 feldegg again, but could the white below the black cap point to a melanogrisea?
  • 10 another possible flava with very narrow supercilium, possibly the same individual as in 3, but taken at a different time
  • 11, terrible out of focus shot... very small narrow supercilium behind the eye, dark head, yellow throat... thunbergi?
  • 12, another female
  • 13 presumably cinereocapilla?

Thank you!


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(mostly for the pictures with descriptions because I can't contribute anything else to this discussion)

Re 13: it says that cinereocapilla with more white in the eyebrow than in their picture can be intergrades with iberiae

Re 11: not sure whether I'm not taking this out of context, but, based on the below, No. 11 could also be dombrowskii:
They are female types, not juveniles, and as such quite hard to assess to subspecies apart from that they have a supercillium. As for all individuals shown here I'd guess they probably are hybrids of feldegg x flava, including 2 and 4. The apparent feldegg (2) has a green nape and 4 has a grey head but also with green intermixed on crown, a typical sign of these kinds of hybrids.
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4 is a dombrovskii-type for me. 8 could be a very dark thunbergi as nape doesn't look black exactly and is delimited from the mantle somewhat poorly. 9 does look like a 'melanogrisea', but that is considered just a variation of feldegg nowadays. Finally, 1 could be a 'xanthophrys' but perhaps a call is needed to be sure, from what I gather here: Wacky wagtails.

Overall I believe drawing lines between flava-'dombrovskii'-'superciliaris'-'xanthophrys' is very hard as they're one huge cline. There are some very typical birds but most are very in-between.
Hope someone with more specialised knowledge of these will chime in to help.

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