The Fearless Willie Wagtail — (Rhipidura leucophrys)

This little bird, an Australian native and regular visitor to my Birdbath and gardens, may be small in stature but he is a fearless warrior and protector of his property and family. I have seen them stand up to two Red Wattlebirds at the birdbath, both of which were twice his size, and they gave in and flew off. I have seen one stand up to a predatory Butcher Bird, again larger than he is and armed with a viciously sharp, hooked beak. This bird has single-wingedly taken on a family of Australian Magpies sitting on telegraph wires, diving at them and buzzing them to get them to move on from ‘his’ territory. Magpies are known to attack and swoop humans so they are no chickens and each one would be 3-4 times the size of Willie.

I have also seen a Wagtail buzz and see off Australian Ravens, who are very intelligent and much, much larger birds than little Willie.

Once, as i was cutting my lawn with a petrol driven roller-type mower, a little wagtail would follow a couple of steps behind me feeding on the insects disturbed by the mower. Most birds would be put off by the sound and smells of the mower, not to mention me. 🙂

Despite their aggressive fearlessness these birds are some of my very favourites, for their smart ‘dress’, quirky and jerky movements where they will hop around suddenly fanning out their long tails out wide to scare insects into flying from grass so they can feed on them, and for their often beautiful calls and trills.

(Click on pics to open in a new window and again to expand for detail)
lovewillbringustogether - Willie Wagtail3

lovewillbringustogether - Willie Wagtail2The male, when challenged or mating, can raise a large white ‘eyebrow’ of small feathers giving him a more ‘fearsome’ look. 🙂

lovewillbringustogether - Willie Wagtail1They really can look quite cute, particularly after a dip. 🙂



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