Ian’s Bird of the Week – Willie Wagtail

Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys) on Wallaby by Ian Montgomery

Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys) on Wallaby by Ian

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Willie Wagtail ~ Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 06-30-10

Very common birds like Willie-wagtails often get overlooked in the Bird of the Week in the pursuit of the rare and exotic. It takes the unusual antics of a particular individual to get noticed, such as this Willie-wagtail, perched cheekily on the head of an Agile Wallaby at Tyto Wetlands near Ingham last week.

Perhaps ‘unusual’ isn’t strictly true, as Graham Pizzey’s Field Guide to the Birds of Australia describes the behaviour of this species as: ‘bold, perky; watches from low branches, fence-posts … backs of farm-animals’. The wallaby might be offended at being described as a mere farm-animal, though this one seems to be doing its best to imitate a country yokel by chewing grass and assuming a dopey expression.

Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys) on Wallaby by Ian Montgomery

Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys) on Wallaby by Ian

The Willie-wagtail is a popular and widespread species, occurring in a very wide range of habitats throughout Australia. It is absent from southern Tasmania and, for reasons not understood, curiously uncommon in the Townsville district, where the second photo was taken. It gets its name from its habit of fanning its tail and swinging it from side to side, (and spreading its wings) apparently to disturb the insects on which it feeds.

Back at the website, I’m continuing the task of updating all the family thumbnail pages. I’ve finished the first 100 families with only about 40 of the Passerine (perching bird) families to complete. Along the way, I’ve also added some new photos including ones of the following species:

Tawny Frogmouth
Burrowing Owl
Red-backed Kingfisher
Yellow-billed Kingfisher

Best wishes,

Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Phone: +61-7 4751 3115
Preferred Email: ian@birdway.com.au
Website: http://birdway.com.au

Lee’s Addition:

I see Ian has a nice sense of humor. Love his description of the Wallaby. Neat little bird, thanks, Ian, for another great Bird of the Week.

Ian mentioned the birds as being “bold, perky; watches.” That brought to mind a few verses:

In the day when I cried out, You answered me, And made me bold with strength in my soul. (Psalms 138:3 NKJV)
The wicked flee when no one pursues, But the righteous are bold as a lion. (Proverbs 28:1 NKJV)
The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Keeping watch on the evil and the good. (Proverbs 15:3 NKJV)
Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. (1 Corinthians 16:13 NKJV)

The Wagtail is in the Rhipiduridae Family which includes all the Fantails, one Wagtail and one Silktail. The Order is the Passeriformes.

Below is a video of a Willie Wagtail on a rock, calling and waging tail, by Nick Talbot.

2 thoughts on “Ian’s Bird of the Week – Willie Wagtail

  1. Hi Ian and Lee,

    Love that photo of Willie Wagtail atop Wallaby. That is a spectacular pic catch!! My husband, Alan, stated it sounds like a good name for a children’s book. How about “Willie Wagtail and Alan Wallaby?” You already have the cover, Ian.

    In gracious gratitude for the article, Ian, and your addition, Lee.


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