Willie Wagtail

Rhipidura leucophrys

(Birds of Drouin and District booklet P78)


Size: 190-210mm

Sexes alike. Familiar, black and white fantail. All black head, back and throat. White eyebrow. White underbelly. White flecks in the wings and throat.


A short series of hissing, metallic, two-syllable rattles.

credit: xeno-canto.org


Right throughout the continent apart from Tasmania.

Map credit: ala.org.au


Builds a beautiful cup nest of fine grasses, bark and spider web. Often low down on a horizontal branch. Breeds from August to January, sometimes several broods in a season.


Willie Wagtails feed on insects taken almost exclusively on or near the ground. They perch on a nearby vantage point, seldom staying still, before sallying out to snatch their prey. It is not unusual for the bird to use the back of a sheep or a cow as the vantage point. The Willie Wagtail is aggressive during breeding periods and will often chase away much larger birds that might pose a threat. Generally sedentary but numbers in a given location can fluctuate due to some local nomadism.