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BTO Blueline
Motacilla cinerea
Grey Wagtail © Colin Varndell
Conservation listings

Europe: no SPEC category, (secure)
UK: Amber (25-50% population decline)

Long-term trend
UK: moderate decline
Status summary
Grey Wagtail populations are most dense in northern and western Britain. WBS shows a fluctuating population size, with a fall during the late 1970s and early 1980s from an initial high point in 1974. The species has recently been moved from the Green to the Amber list, because of a 41% 'moderate decline' recorded between 1975 and 1999, but the current figures already show a reduction in this figure. The trends for Grey Wagtail are very similar to those for Pied Wagtail, suggesting that similar factors may be affecting these two species. Both clutch and brood size of Grey Wagtails have declined over the past 15-20 years and may indicate a reduction in the quality of their riverine habitats.
WBS UK graph
Table of population changes for Grey Wagtail
Source Period
Years Plots
Alert Comment
WBS waterways 25 1975-2000 57 -34 -49 -10 >25  
  10 1990-2000 64 1 -12 14    
  5 1995-2000 62 16 8 26    
BBS UK 8 1994-2002 154 52 25 86    
BBS England 8 1994-2002 98 71 35 117    
BBS acknowledgement
BBS UK graph
BBS England graph
Table of productivity information for Grey Wagtail
Variable Period
Years Mean
Trend Predicted
in first year
in last year
Change Comment
Clutch size 33 1968-2001 42 Curvilinear 4.68 eggs 4.8 eggs 0.12 eggs  
Brood size 33 1968-2001 87 Curvilinear 3.96 chicks 4.2 chicks 0.24 chicks  
Daily failure rate (eggs) 33 1968-2001 64 None        
Daily failure rate (chicks) 33 1968-2001 62 Curvilinear 0.0152 nests/day 0.007 nests/day -0.0082 nests/day  
Laying date 33 1968-2001 66 None        
Clutch size graph
Brood size graph
Egg nest failure graph
Chick nest failure graph
Laying date graph
Insufficient data on CES
available for this species
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This report should be cited as:
Crick, H.Q.P., Marchant, J.H., Noble, D.G., Baillie, S.R., Balmer, D.E., Beaven, L.P., Coombes, R.H.,
Downie, I.S., Freeman, S.N., Joys, A.C., Leech, D.I., Raven, M.J., Robinson, R.A. and Thewlis, R.M. (2004)
Breeding Birds in the Wider Countryside: their conservation status 2003.
BTO Research Report No. 353. BTO, Thetford. (http://www.bto.org/birdtrends2003)

Pages maintained by Susan Waghorn and Iain Downie: Last updated 16 February, 2009