Why does a wagtail wag its tail?
Try 3 issues of BBC Science Focus Magazine for £5!
There are lots of supported reasons as to why certain birds wag their tails, but in wagtails the specific reason remains unclear.
Asked by: Marion Roderick, Norfolk
It’s thought that tail wagging in birds may help flush out insects, or act as a signal, either to others in the group, maybe as a dominance display, or to potential predators (“I’m alert: you won’t catch me”). Evidence from other tail-wagging species supports each hypothesis, but in wagtails specifically it’s unclear. Recent observations support the idea of it being a predator signal, which seems reasonable.
Subscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun science facts.
May Half Price Sale
- Save up to 52% when you subscribe to BBC Science Focus Magazine.
- Risk - free offer! Cancel at any time when you subscribe via Direct Debit.
- FREE UK delivery.
- Stay up to date with the latest developments in the worlds of science and technology.