Willie Wagtail – Profile | Traits | Facts | Habitat | Breeding

Willie wagtail

Seeing a Willie Wagtail, scientific name Rhipidura leucophrys is a reminder to remain cheerful. It is a healthy practice to make ourselves really feel light and completely happy.

Being cheerful and gregarious to others will earn us the same therapy which in turn makes our lives completely happy and call it – price dwelling. This is the reward of Willie Wagtail.

Willie Wagtail Profile

Willie wagtails often pair for all times. The breeding season lasts from July to December, more usually occurring after rain in drier areas.

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 acquainted bird all through a lot of its range, dwelling in most habitats other than thick forest. Measuring 19–21.5 cm (7 1⁄2–8 1⁄2 in) in size, the willie wagtail is contrastingly colored with nearly totally black upperparts and white underparts; the female and male have related plumage.

Insectivores are most drawn to gardens the place each meal and water are supplied. While very good fairy-wrens have been often present in gardens the place meals were supplied, willie wagtails and gray fantails most well-liked to go to gardens the place solely water is supplied.

With a lifespan of 12 to fifteen years, the willie wagtail is a bird it’s possible you’ll get to know very properly around your backyard, it would simply turn you right into a “bird brain”.

The willie wagtail is insectivorous and spends a lot of time chasing prey in open habitat. Its common name is derived from its behavior of wagging its tail horizontally when foraging on the ground.

Aggressive and territorial, the willie wagtail will usually harass a lot bigger birds such because the laughing kookaburra and wedge-tailed eagle.

Willie Wagtail has responded properly to human alteration of the panorama and is a common sight in city lawns, parks, and gardens.

Willie Wagtail is broadly featured in Aboriginal folklore around Australia and New Guinea in quite a lot of roles, from stealer of secrets and techniques and liar to a very good omen for profitable crops.

Willie Wagtail, scientific name Rhipidura leucophrys

Willie Wagtail Distribution and habitat

Common and ample, the willie wagtail is discovered throughout most of Australia and New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, the Bismarck Archipelago, and eastern Indonesia.

Willie Wagtail is sedentary throughout most of Australia, although some areas have recorded seasonal actions; it’s an autumn and winter customer to northeastern New South Wales and southeast Queensland, in addition to the Gulf Country and components of Cape York Peninsula within the far north.

Willie Wagtail is a vagrant to Tasmania, and now and again reaches Lord Howe Island. There is one record from Mangere Island within the Chatham Islands archipelago east of New Zealand in 2002.

The willie wagtail was launched in Hawaii around 1922 to control bugs on livestock, however, the introduction was unsuccessful and the final sighting was at Koko Head in 1937.

The willie wagtail is at home in all kinds of habitats, however, avoids densely forested areas corresponding to the rainforest.

Willie Wagtail prefers semi-open woodland or grassland with scattered timber, usually close to wetlands or our bodies of water. In New Guinea, it inhabits man-made clearings and grasslands, in addition to open forests and mangroves.

On Guadalcanal, it was reported from open areas and coconut groves. It has responded properly to human alteration of the panorama and might usually be seen looking in open, grassed areas corresponding to lawns, gardens, parkland, and sporting grounds.

The Willie Wagtail species unfold into the Western Australian Wheatbelt after the unique vegetation had been cleared for agriculture.

Willie Wagtail, scientific name Rhipidura leucophrys

Willie Wagtail Description

An adult willie wagtail is between 19 and 21.5 cm (7.5 and 8.5 in) in size and weighs 17–24 g (0.6–0.85 oz), with a tail 10–11 cm (approx 4 in) long.

The short, slender bill measures 1.64–1.93 cm (around 0.75 in) and is tipped with a small hook. This species has longer legs than different fantails, which can be an adaptation to foraging on the ground.

The female and male have related plumage; the head, throat, higher breast, wings, upperparts, and tail are all black, with a white eyebrow, “whiskers” and underparts.

The bill and legs are black and the iris darkish brown. Immature birds of their first year after molting from juvenile plumage might have pale ideas of their wings, whereas juvenile birds themselves have duller plumage, their upper parts brown-tinged with some pale brown scallops on the head and breast.

Willie Wagtail Voice

The wagtail could be very “chatty” and has a variety of distinct vocalizations. Its most recognized sound is its alarm call which is a speedy chit-chit-chit-chit, though it has more melodious sounds in its repertoire.

The alarm call is sounded to warn off potential rivals and threats from its territory and in addition appear to function as a signal to its mate when a possible risk is within the area.

John Gould reported that it gave the impression of a toddler’s rattle or “small cog-wheels of a steam mill”. In his book What Bird is That? (1935), Neville Cayley writes that it has “a pleasant call resembling sweet pretty little creature, frequently uttered during the day or night, especially on moonlight nights”.

Willie Wagtail, scientific name Rhipidura leucophrys

Willie Wagtail Diet

The willie wagtail perches on low branches, fences, posts, and the like, looking ahead to bugs and different small invertebrates within the air or on the ground.

Willie Wagtail often hunts by hawking flying bugs corresponding to gnats, flies, and small moths, however, will often glean from the ground. It will usually hop alongside the ground and flit behind people and animals, corresponding to cattle, sheep, or horses, as they stroll over grassed areas, to catch any creatures disturbed by their passing.

It wags its tail in a horizontal trend whereas foraging on this method; the precise goal of this behavior is unknown however is believed to assist flush out bugs hidden in vegetation and therefore make them simpler to catch.

The willie wagtail takes ticks from the skin of grazing animals corresponding to cattle or pigs, even from lions asleep in a zoo. It kills its prey by bashing it towards a tough floor, or holding it and pulling off the wings before extracting the edible insides.

Willie Wagtail Feeding Behavior

The adaptability and opportunistic diet of the willie wagtail have most likely assisted it in adapting to human habitation; it eats all kinds of arthropods, together with butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, dragonflies, bugs, spiders, centipedes, and millipedes, and has been recorded killing small lizards corresponding to skinks and geckos in a examine in Madang on Papua New Guinea’s north coast.

The tailbones of those lizards have been discovered of their faeces though it’s unclear whether or not the whole animal was eaten or merely the tail. Either approach, lizards are solely really occasional prey merchandise forming between 1 and three% of the total diet. Evidence from the study in Madang prompt that the willie wagtail selectively fed nestlings bigger prey.

Willie Wagtail, scientific name Rhipidura leucophrys

Willie Wagtail Behavior

The willie wagtail is sort of at all times on the move and barely nonetheless for more than just a few moments throughout daylight.

Even whereas perching it’ll flick its tail from side to side, twisting about in search of prey. Birds are largely encountered singly or in pairs, though they might collect in small flocks.

Unlike different fantails, a lot of its time is spent on the ground. It beats its wings deeply in flight, interspersed with a swift flying dip. It characteristically wags its tail upon landing after a short dipping flight.

The bird’s white eyebrows grow to be flared and more distinguished in an aggressive display, and settled and more hidden when in a submissive or appeasement display.

The willie wagtail is very territorial and might be fairly fearless in defense of its territory; it’ll harry not solely small birds but in addition a lot bigger species such because the Australian magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen), raven (Corvus coronoides), laughing kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae), and wedge-tailed eagle (Aquila audax). It might even assault home dogs, cats, and people who method its nest too carefully.

Willie Wagtail has additionally been noticed harassing snake-neck turtles and tiger snakes in Western Australia. When harassing an opponent, the willie wagtail avoids the head and goals for the rear.

Both the female and male might have interaction on this behavior, and usually more intensely within the breeding season. Territories range from 1–3 ha (2.5–7.4 acres) in area.

A pair of birds will declare and defend their territory towards different pairs in a diving display. One bird stays nonetheless whereas the opposite loops and dives repeatedly before the roles are reversed; each sings all of the whereas.

Willie Wagtail, scientific name Rhipidura leucophrys

Willie Wagtail Reproduction

Willie wagtails often pair for all times. The breeding season lasts from July to December, more usually occurring after rain in drier areas. Anywhere as many as 4 broods could also be raised throughout this time.

Willie Wagtail builds a cup-like nest on a tree branch away from leaves or cover, lower than 5 m (16 ft) above the ground. Rafters and eaves might also be used.

It has been noticed to construct its nest within the neighborhood of these of the magpie-lark (Grallina cyanoleuca), probably profiting from the latter bird’s territoriality and aggression towards intruders. Similarly, it’s not afraid to construct close to human habitation.

The nest consists of grass stems, strips of bark, and different fibrous materials which are sure and woven along with spider internet. Even hair from pet dogs and cats could also be used.

It has additionally been noticed trying to take hair from a pet goat. An alpaca breeder within the Mudgee district of New South Wales has noticed alpaca fleece within the nests of willy wagtails (the outcomes of scraps of fleece not picked up at the shearing time).

The feminine lays two to 4 small cream-white eggs with brownish markings measuring 16 mm × 21 mm (0.63 in × 0.83 in) and incubates them for 14 days.

Willie Wagtail, scientific name Rhipidura leucophrys

Like all passerines, the chicks are altricial and nidicolous; they’re born bare and helpless with closed eyes, and stay within the nest. Both parents participate in feeding the younger and will proceed to take action whereas embarking on one other brood.

Nestlings stay within the nest for around 14 days before fledging. Upon leaving, the fledglings will stay hidden in cover close by for one or two days before venturing additional afield, as much as 20 m (66 ft) away by the third day.

Parents will cease feeding their fledglings close to the end of the second week, because the younger birds more and more forage for themselves, and shortly afterward drive them out of the territory.

The feminine pallid cuckoo (Cuculus pallidus) will lay eggs in a willie wagtail nest, though the hosts usually recognize and eject the overseas eggs, so profitable brood parasitism is uncommon.

Parasitism by the fan-tailed (Cacomantis flabelliformis), brush, (C. variolosus), Horsfield’s bronze (Chrysococcyx basalis), and shining bronze cuckoo (C. lucidus) have additionally been reported.

Although the willie wagtail is an aggressive defender of its nest, predators do account for many eggs and younger. About two-thirds of eggs hatch efficiently, and a 3rd go away from the nest as fledglings.

Nestlings could also be preyed upon by each pied butcherbirds, (Cracticus nigrogularis) black butcherbirds (C. quoyi), the spangled drongo (Dicrurus bracteatus), and the pied currawong (Strepera graculina), in addition to the feral cat (Felis catus), and rat species.

The proximity of nesting to human habitation has additionally left nests open to destruction by youngsters. Mostly male willie wagtails sing at night solely throughout the breeding season. The song rate will increase with lunar illumination.

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