Injured Wagtail: Revisited

You may remember the pied wagtail with an injured foot from a previous blog? Well today I caught up with this bird once again and was delighted to discover he had survived against the odds!

Warning: graphic content

Unfortunately as a result of his horrible injury the foot has now been amputated, lost as the blood supply was slowly lost and infection . Nothing remains but a neat (and remarkably healthy looking) stump.

The left foot, now gone


Whilst this is clearly  a very traumatic injury the wagtail will not be suffering in pain any longer. Hopping around on one leg is no problem for this delicate agile little bird either, aided by the bird’s long wagging tail.

The tail raised high mid-wag

The reason for this tail wagging behaviour, for which the wagtails get their name, is not fully understood. Theories suggest this could help to flush their insect prey our of the ground, as a social behaviour or to deter predators.

This male wagtail was remarkably bold today, happy for me to slowly approach within a few feet and capture some lovely close ups. I am particularly fond of this first shot as he carefully preened his feathers on the sunbaked harbour wall.

Preening the long primary feathers on the wing



Despite the loss of the foot, the wagtail still instinctively used his stump to scratch-preen the feathers on his back.

Having a scratch

Preening helps to keep the feathers in good condition, rearranging them to keep them as streamlined as possible and distributing oils throughout the plumage.



Having finished his preen the bird then had a vigorous shake and ruffled his wings before he darted off out of sight.


Ruffled feathers


Poised for take off

All photographs copyright of Claire Stott/Grey Feather Photography 2019 ©

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