Sunday Inspiration – Fantails

Rufous Fantail (Rhipidura rufifrons) by Ian

Rufous Fantail by Ian

Thou shalt fan them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them: and thou shalt rejoice in the LORD, and shalt glory in the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 41:16 KJV)

This week’s Inspiration comes from the Rhipiduridae – Fantails Family. You can see by Ian Montgomery’s photo above where their name came from. This family of birds has 50 species. All but three are Fantails. The other three are the Willie Wagtail, Silktail, and the Pygmy Drongo.

Fantails are small insectivorous birds of Australasia, Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent belonging to the genus Rhipidura in the family Rhipiduridae. Most of the species are about 15 to 18 cm long, specialist aerial feeders, and named as “fantails”, but the Australian willie wagtail, is a little larger, and though still an expert hunter of insects on the wing, concentrates equally on terrestrial prey.

Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys) on Wallaby by Ian Montgomery

Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys) on Wallaby by Ian

The willie (or willy) wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys) is a passerine bird native to Australia, New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, the Bismarck Archipelago, and Eastern Indonesia. It is a common and familiar bird throughout much of its range, living in most habitats apart from thick forest. Measuring 19–21.5 cm (7 128 12 in) in length, the willie wagtail is contrastingly coloured with almost entirely black upperparts and white underparts; the male and female have similar plumage.

Silktail (Lamprolia victoriae) ©WikiC

Silktail (Lamprolia victoriae) ©WikiC

The silktail (Lamprolia victoriae) is a species of bird endemic to Fiji. It is the only member of the genus Lamprolia. This beautiful bird looks superficially like a diminutive bird of paradise but it is actually closely related to the fantails.

The pygmy drongo or Papuan drongo (Chaetorhynchus papuensis) is a species of bird endemic to the island of New Guinea. It is the only species in the genus Chaetorhynchus. The species was long placed within the drongo family Dicruridae, but it differs from others in that family in having twelve rectrices instead of ten. Molecular analysis also supports moving the species out from the drongo family, instead placing it as a sister species to the Silktail of Fiji, and both those species in the fantail family Rhipiduridae. Some authorities reference the bird as the pygmy drongo-fantail. (Information from Wikipedia)

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For which cause I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. (2 Timothy 1:6 LITV)

“So Send I You” – Men’s Quartet – Faith Baptist



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:

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.