Birds by Name – W
The Grey Wagtail, Motacilla cinerea, is a small member of the wagtail family, Motacillidae, and looks fairly similar to the Yellow Wagtail apart from only having the yellow on its belly up to the throat and on its rear end. Breeding males have a black throat.
The breeding season is usually from April to July and the nest is built near fast running streams or rivers on an embankment between stones and roots. Wagtails lay between 3 and 6 speckled eggs at a time.
Species: M. cinerea
This rather cute member of the Finch family is the Orange-cheeked Waxbill, Estrilda melpoda, a native of western and central Africa. Adults have quite a bright orange cheek, juveniles tend to be a bit duller.
The Orange-cheeked Waxbill mainly eats seeds, grass seeds in particular, except in the breeding season when it also partakes of small insects such as gnats and termites.
Nests are often built quite low down or even on the ground and three to six small, white eggs are usually laid.
Species: E. melpoda
The Waxwing, or Bohemian Waxwing, Bombycilla garrulus, is quite a podgy bird, slightly smaller than a starling, and has a very prominent crest.
It is reddish-brown with a black throat, a small black mask round its eye, yellow and white in the wings and a squarish, yellow-tipped tail.
Waxwings breed in coniferous forests throughout most northern parts of Europe, Asia and western North America.
They eat fruits and berries.
Species: B. garrulus
The Village Weaver, Ploceus cucullatus, is found in much of sub-Saharan Africa, although it has also been introduced to Hispaniola, Mauritius and Réunion. It inhabits a wide range of open or semi-open habitats, including woodlands and areas of human habitation.
Species: P. cucullatus
Vitelline Masked Weaver
Species: P. vitellinus
The Eurasian Wren, Troglodytes troglodytes, is a very small bird and the only member of the wren family Troglodytidae found outside the Americas. In Europe it is more commonly known simply as the Wren.
It occurs throughout Europe and part of Asia from northern Iran and Afghanistan across to Japan. It is only migratory in the northern parts of its range.
The Wren is a tiny brown bird, almost rounded, with a fine bill, fairly long legs and toes, very short round wings and a short, narrow tail. For such a small bird it has a very loud voice!
Wrens mainly eat insects and spiders.
Genus: Troglodytes (disputed)
Subgenus: T. (Nannus)
Species: T. troglodytes
Great Spotted Woodpecker
The Great Spotted Woodpecker, Dendrocopos major, is a member of the woodpecker family Picidae and is found throughout Europe and northern Asia.
The Great Spotted Woodpecker is usually between 23 and 26 centimetres long and has a wingspan of between 38 and 44 centimetres. The upperparts are black with white on the sides of the face and neck. A black stripe extends from the bill and runs below the eye. On the shoulder is a large white patch and the flight feathers are barred with black and white. The underparts are dull white and the abdomen and rump are a crimson red. The bill is black and the legs are greenish grey.
Males have a crimson spot on the nape of the neck and juveniles have crimson on the top of the head. Females do not have the crimson patches or spots.
They eat insects, seeds and nuts.
Species: D. major
The European Green Woodpecker, Picus viridis, is a member of the woodpecker family Picidae and it is found in most parts of Europe and western Asia.
It is green on its upperparts with a paler green belly, bright yellow rump, red on the top of its head and a sort of black moustache. Males have a red centre to the moustache.
The Green Woodpecker is quite large and sturdy, growing to between 30 and 36 centimetres in length with a wingspan of between 45 and 51 centimetres.
It eats ants and actually spends most of its time feeding on the ground.
Species: P. viridis