Willie Wagtail Rhipidura leucophrys
Willie Wagtail, Mallacoota, Victoria, Australia, April 2006 - click for larger image Australia
February / April 2006

The Willie Wagtail is distributed throughout Australia though it is only accidental in Tasmania. It is also distributed in New Guinea. It is found in a wide variety of habitats with the exception of dense forest.

Willie Wagtail, Kangaroo Island, SA, Australia, March 2006 - click for larger image It forages for insects using its tail to twist and turn while in pursuit of its prey. I saw this bird more often hunting from the ground whereas the Grey Fantail R. albiscapa seemed to forage more from bushes and tree branches.

As you can see from these photos, it is very black and white with a sharp border on the breast. It has thin, white eye-brows.

Willie Wagtail, The Coorong, SA, Australia, February 2006 - click for larger image Photo 3 shows an immature with brownish wing feathers and white mottling on the chin.

Photo 4 shows the sub-species R. l. picata found in the northern third of Australia. It differs from the nominate sub-species found further south (and shown in photos 1, 2 and 3) in being smaller and having a slightly longer bill and longer rictal bristles.

Willie Wagtail, Cairns, Queensland, Australia, November 2010 - click for larger image It has a melodic song sometimes characterised as "sweet-pretty-creature" and also a rattling alarm call.

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