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
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
Wagtails, who really do wag their tails like mad, like open ground, particularly near water, and can often be found in urban areas.
In the UK, the similar Pied Wagtail, Motacilla yarrellii, has more black on the head, neck and throat.
Species: M. alba
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 Wigeon is a small to medium-sized dabbling duck in the genus Anas. It has a round head and small bill. The head and neck of the male are chestnut brown, the forehead is yellow, the breast is pinky and the body is grey. In flight they show white bellies and males have a large white wing patch.
Wigeons are quite happy to hybridise, as are Mallards, so watch out for some interesting crosses.
Wigeons eat various sorts of aquatic plants, roots and grasses.
The Wood Duck or Carolina Duck, Aix sponsa, is a colourfiul, a medium-sized perching duck from North America. Adult males are between 47 and 54 centimetres long and have a wingspan of between 66 and 73 centimetres.
As might be noted from the colouring, it shares its genes with the Asian Mandarin Duck, Aix galericulata. The females are not as colourful as the males.
Wood Ducks nest in trees and when the ducklings leave the nest, they have reportedly been known to jump from a height of over 80 metres without injuring themselves. The parents try to build their nests in trees over water to give the little ones a soft(ish) landing.
Wood Ducks mainly eat berries, acorns, and seeds, but will also eat insects.
Species: A. sponsa
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