Willie Wagtail

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Willie Wagtail, Rhipidura leucophrys, Size 19-22cm. Common and well-known black fantail. Eyebrow and underparts white. Head, back, and tail black, with brownish wings. Tail is wagged rather than fanned. Always restless, swings body from side to side, sudden flicks of the wings to flush insects. Call is variable from a harsh chatter when annoyed to a more general ‘sweet pretty creature’.

Feeding Habits

Feeds on insects often caught in flight, or working frequently from branches of trees to fences or taken from the ground.


August-January or throughout the year in good times. Nest is a neat circular cup of grass and cobwebs on a horizontal branch, often over water but will also use any structure that is handy, e.g. clothes hoists, street lamps, buildings. Two-to-four eggs, both sexes build the nest, incubate the eggs and feed the young. The nest is defended vigorously.

Places to Look

Parks, gardens, farmland, open woodland and often around livestock.


NQ Dry Tropics gratefully acknowledges the contribution of Birdlife Townsville (formerly the Townsville Region Bird Observers Club) to the information on this page.

Willie Wagtail © Birdlife Townsville 2008

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