Backyard Birds

Willie Wagtails

The Willie Wagtails (Rhipidura leucophrys) is one of the best-known and best-loved birds of Australia.

Its range includes the entire mainland of Australia and northern Tasmania and extends to New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, the Bismarck Archipelago, and eastern Indonesia.  The Willie Wagtail is a frequent sight in almost all habitats except thick forests.  

They are at home in a wide variety of habitats but tend to avoid dense forests and particularly favour semi-open woodland or grassland with scattered trees. It is often observed perching on fences, low-hanging branches, and posts, from which it hunts for small creatures on the ground or in the air.

It averages 7.9 inches or 20 cm in length.  The plumage is starkly colored in all-black except for its white underparts. 

Willie Wagtails are never still for more than a few moments during daylight hours; even when perching they flick their long, black tails from side to side constantly, twisting about to better watch for prey.

This species is unrelated to the Eurasian wagtails in the family Motacillidae.


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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