Two forms of this bird occur in our region, the Pied Wagtail M. alba yarrelli in Britain and along the Channel coasts, and the White Wagtail M. alba alba across Europe. Birds are semi-resident in western Europe, while elsewhere they are summer visitors. The Pied Wagtail is black on the back in the male, dark grey in the female, with little or no contrast between back and head pattern, plus a blackish rump. The White Wagtail bird has an ash-grey mantle with a sharp border to the black nape, more diffuse in the female. In winter both forms lose the black throat.
Pied / white wagtail Bird is found in a wide range of open habitats, typically close to wet areas such as lakes, rivers, streams, gravel pits, estuaries and coasts, and also in open areas such as farmland, fields, pastures, parks, gardens, airfields, golf courses and along roads, ideally where water is present but most importantly having flat open areas in which it can see and run. Pied / white wagtail Bird is also regularly found in towns and villages, around buildings with suitable surrounding habitat. It often forms communal roosts in urban areas in winter, on large city buildings such as office blocks, hospitals and supermarkets, on window ledges, rooftops or in adjacent trees.
Commonly heard calls of Pied / White Wagtail Bird include an emphatic high-pitched disyllabic "chissick", sometimes uttered as a single syllable "chitt" or "tschick", and also the flight call, which is a thinner-sounding and more liquid "tsli-wee", "tslee-vit" or a trisyllabic "tslee-li-vit". Another call is a more slurred and slightly descending "tzwerr'p". The song, given at a fast tempo when in a state of excitement, such as display or alarm, is a very rapid sequence of call notes run together in varying pitches, with harder single-syllable notes dominating the structure and interspersed with higher liquid notes. It also gives a more languid song, a series of twittering notes interspersed with pauses.