(Rhipidura Leucophrys)

Length:  19-22 cm Common

Distributed generally in mainland Australia. The Willie Wagtail is the largest, and best known, of the Australian Fantails.

The plumage is black above a white belly. It can be distinguished from similar sized black and white birds by its black throat and white eyebrows and whisker marks. The name wagtail stems from the constant sideways wagging of the tail. Young birds resemble the adults but have paler, slight rusty edges to the feathers of the wings.

Willie Wagtails are found in most open habitats, especially open forests and woodlands. They are often associated with water-courses and wetlands and are common around human habitation. They are active feeders. Birds can be seen darting around lawns and fairways as they hunt for insects on the ground. As they do so, the tail is wagged from side to side, insects are also captured in the air in active chases.

The Willie Wagtail’s nest is a neatly woven cup of grasses, covered with spider’s web on the outside and lined internally with soft grasses, hair or fur. Nests may be re-used in successive years and are normally placed on the horizontal branch of a tree. The cream coloured eggs, speckled with grey and brown are incubated by both sexes.

The young stay with the parents until the eggs of the next clutch start to hatch. At this point they are driven away if conditions are favourable. The couple may raise up to four clutches in a single season.