Backyard Buddies
Willie Wagtail

Photo: Simone Cottrell OEH

Willie Wagtail

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The Willie Wagtail, Rhipidura leucophrys, lives all over mainland Australia and is hard to miss with its long fanned tail that it swings from side to side or up and down while foraging on the ground.

The distinctive white eyebrow of the male wagtail is not just a fashion statement - it helps him attract a mate. Rival males show aggression by expanding their eyebrows during a territorial dispute. The loser shows his submission by hiding his eyebrow completely, making him look like a young, immature bird.

The Willie Wagtail is very active and rarely still for more than a few moments during daylight hours.

A Wagtail spends most of its time on the ground where it will often harass much larger birds to keep them out of its territory and may even stand up to other animals.

The Willie Wagtail is very tame, so you can get up close as it darts around your backyard lawn, hunting for insects on the ground and catching them in the air.

Danger from cats is always present however when they are feeding on the ground, so keep an eye on your or neighbour's cat when they are around.

The Willie Wagtail prefers a wet backyard with lots of leaf-litter for feeding, and available mud for building its nest. The Wagtail uses grasses, spider webs, hair and fur to construct its nest and will reuse the materials to rebuild its nest if necessary. The Willie Wagtail is a great recycler.

Willie Wagtails love:

But they don't like:

Try to:

Avoid:

Don't be surprised if Willie Wagtails:

A few more Willie Wagtail facts

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Quote

”I am a proud Backyard Buddy, doing my bit for our wonderful wildlife, I encourage you to get involved!“

James – BYB Supporter & Homeowner, VIC

Photo: OEH