Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Willie Wagtails Work Hard

Although I am on the Isle of Wight on holidays, I want to post my 
Australian bird for Wild Bird Wednesday.
 
Today, I have chosen the Willie Wagtail bird.  He is not the same as our Willie Wagtail (Pied Wagtail) in the UK.  This pair built a nest in a very exposed branch in a tree, beside our house that people passed and it was very venerable to being predated.  The parents were very industrious about warding off attacks (as you will see in the video at the end) and feeding their young, they successfully reared 2 chicks that fledged .


Willie Wagtail is the largest, and most well-known, of the Australian fantails. The plumage is black above with a white belly. The Willie Wagtail can be distinguished from other similar-sized black and white birds by its black throat and white eyebrows and whisker marks. The name wagtail stems from the constant sideways wagging of the tail. Young birds resemble the adults, but have paler, slightly rusty edges to the feathers of the wings.


 
The Willie Wagtail is found throughout mainland Australia but is absent from Tasmania. It is also found in New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, the Bismarck Archipelago and the Moluccas.


 
Willie Wagtails are found in most open habitats, especially open forests and woodlands, tending to be absent from wet sclerophyll forests and rain forests. They are often associated with water-courses and wetlands and are common around human habitation.
Although usually seen singly or in pairs, it may form winter flocks, often mixed with other species.


The Willie Wagtail's nest is a neatly woven cup of grasses, covered with spider's web on the outside and lined internally with soft grasses, hair or fur. The soft lining of the nest, if not readily available, is often taken directly from an animal. The nest of the Willie Wagtail may be re-used in successive years, or an old nest is often destroyed and the materials used in the construction of a new nest. 


 
Nests are normally placed on a horizontal branch of a tree, or other similar structure. The cream-coloured eggs, speckled with grey and brown are incubated by both sexes. The young birds stay with the parents until the eggs from the next clutch start to hatch. At this point they are driven away. If conditions are favourable, the couple may raise up to four successive clutches in a single season.


We watched the adults sitting in the beating heat of the sun,incubating the eggs and then when the chicks hatched, watched them feeding them.  






When they were really young, they were hardly visible in the nest,
 only when the parents arrived back with food.




It was not long before they were growing up.

Behaviour
Willie Wagtails use their eyebrows in territorial disputes. They will dive at rivals, chattering crossly and fluffing up the white feathers. The defeated bird will withdraw its eyebrow completely. Both male and female approach courtship with raised eyebrows. Around humans, the birds are very confident and cheerful. They will happily nest in and around houses and their gardens. They are also found around cattle and sheep, catching the insects that are attracted to the scent of the large animals or are disturbed by their movements.
 



Sitting in the evening sun, content with full bellies
Interesting Fact

The Willie Wagtail features in many Aboriginal myths. In some regions, its killing is said to bring on violent storms, while in the NT the bird is considered a cunning spy and therefore ceremonial or private matters should not be discussed in its presence.







Predators

Dogs and Cats may attempt to attack this confident little bird, as may larger birds of prey. However, they are quite aggressive, especially in the breeding season and will bravely tackle predators several times their own size, such as Australian Magpies and Laughing Kookaburras.  Although it is active in defending its territory, the Willie Wagtail is very tolerant and tame around humans, often feeding and nesting in close proximity of houses and human activity.


This photo was taken just before they fledged

I have a short video showing how these 2 Willie Wagtails were determined that a Laughing Kookaburra would not get near their nest with the chicks in it.

It can be accessed at http://youtu.be/z425058WcTY

If the space below is black, click it and the video will appear.

 




I hope you enjoyed  this post.  Thank you for visiting.  I do love receiving your comments and I do read them however as I am on holidays, I just do not have time to reply to them all.  I hope you understand.


I am linking my post with WILD BIRD WEDNESDAY.

28 comments:

  1. LOVE those Aboriginal legends about this great little bird! Note to self: dont speak my secrets in front of one!

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    1. Hi Christian Thanks for comments adn for giving me a laugh.

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  2. Great photos of the Willie Wagtail - especially the ones of the nest and the young.

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    1. HI Mick Thanks for comments adn glad you liked the chicks.

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  3. Beautiful pictures of these birds.
    They are not in the Netherlands.
    So beautiful the little birds with their parents.

    Greetings Irma

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    1. Hi Irma Thanks for Comments. I only see them when I gotoaustralia as we don't have them here in Northern Ireland either.

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  4. great photos; lovely to get those of the chicks Margaret.

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  5. Willie Wagtails are fun to watch. Great post.

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  6. Wow, Great captures! the little birds looking cute and pretty.
    Nice find of the video....

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  7. Great close ups!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

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  8. Wonderful photos Margaret! I love the babies in the nest. They're so sweet.

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  9. What a fascinating bird, the juveniles remind me of swallows. After watching the video they're certainly tenacious, I liked the calls and the bit were they're pecking at the back of the Kookabura's head.

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  10. quite a sharp-looking bird. just love that eyebrow! and the kookaburra is huge by comparison!

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  11. I don't think I've ever seen such amazing chick photos!! absolutely stunning Margaret! Did they really have anything to worry about with the Laughing Kookaburra? wonderful video...

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  12. So full of new informations and interesting facts. Not being in Australia, I am not familier with this bird except for the few times I have seen pictures posted. I enjoyed the journey with you and good for those little birds protecting their nest ...

    Andrea @ From The Sol

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  13. I have never heard of this bird. It's little nest looks a bit like a hummingbird nest, only much bigger. Your first picture of him is very good, he is a bird to remember.

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  14. Another wagtail that is new to me. I love the name....Willie Wagtail. Such interesting sounds they make:)

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  15. I thought for one moment that you had spotted a really rare bird Margaret until I read the text. Great photos all of them.

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  16. Hi Margaret ... Love those little peeps in the nest so darn cute!!
    Amazing the way the nest is constructed !!

    The video is just to funny !! What a patient bird that on is!!
    Grace

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    1. HI Grace Many thanks for your commnets. Yes, The chicks are so sute. It was wonerful to be able to watch them grw up and fleddge.

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  17. The wagtails are cute birds. Wonderful series of photos.

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  18. wonderful shots of the nest and the babies. Really interesting!

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  19. What a lovely little bird - great photos of the nest and young :) Hope you are enjoying your holiday.

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  20. I really enjoyed this post, and I like everything about the Willie Wagtail, including its name. It's a marvel to me how birds know just how large their nest needs to be. Those two "waglets" completely filled the nest by the time they fledged. Loved the video, too.

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  21. Hello Margaret!
    Today I came back from vacation.
    I come to you and here the interesting post.
    I've missed you. I missed your posts.
    I send you a kiss.
    Lucia

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  22. Love these birds! The nest looks kind of like a larger version of a hummingbird nest. the Kookaburra was starting to get a bit bothered. Did it fly away soon?

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  23. What a great little bird. Wonderful pictures of the activity in the nest and interesting info.

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