Willie wagtail

The willie wagtail is a passerine bird native to Australia, New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, the Bismarck Archipelago, and Eastern Indonesia. Its common name is derived from its habit of wagging its tail horizontally when foraging on the ground. Three subspecies are recognised; the smaller R. l. picata from northern Australia, the larger R. l. melaleuca from New Guinea and islands in its vicinity, and the Rhipidura leucophrys from central and southern Australia.

About Willie wagtail in brief

Summary Willie wagtailThe willie wagtail is a passerine bird native to Australia, New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, the Bismarck Archipelago, and Eastern Indonesia. It is a common and familiar bird throughout much of its range, living in most habitats apart from thick forest. Its common name is derived from its habit of wagging its tail horizontally when foraging on the ground. Three subspecies are recognised; the smaller R. l. picata from northern Australia, the larger R. l. melaleuca from New Guinea and islands in its vicinity, and the Rhipidura leucophrys from central and southern Australia. Many Aboriginal names are onomatopoeic, based on the sound of its scolding call. It has responded well to human alteration of the landscape and is aCommon sight in urban lawns, parks, and gardens. The species is insectivorous and spends much time chasing prey in open habitat. Aggressive and territorial, it will often harass much larger birds such as the laughing kookaburra and wedge-tailed eagle. The bird is widely featured in Aboriginal folklore around Australia and New Guinea in a variety of roles, from stealer of secrets and liar to a good omen for successful crops. Its specific epithet isderived from the Ancient Greek words leukos “white” and ǒphrys “eyebrow”. It is unrelated to the true wagtails of the genus Motacilla; it is a member of a group that includes true crows and ravens, drongos and birds of paradise.

Some authorities classify this group of birds as a subfamily of the drongo family Dicruridae, while others consider them distinct enough to warrant their own family R hipidura. More recently, the grouping has been refined and the fantails have been classified in a group called the Corvida Corvinae. The group of Australasian birds is mainly known as the parvorder Corvidinae, which includes many tropical and Australian passerines and flycatchers. The name willie was first used by the English ornithologist John Latham in 1801 as Turdus leukophrys, but the current name was widely accepted by 1916. The origins of willie are obscure. It had been in use colloquially for the pied subspecies of the white wagtailed on the Isle of Man, and Northern Ireland. Among the Kamilaroi, it is called thirrithirri. In Bougainville Island, it’s called tsiropen in the Banoni language from the west coast, and in Awaipa of Kieta district it is maneka. In Central Australia, southwest of Alice Springs, the Pitjantjatjara word is tjintir-tjintirs. In the Solomon islands Pijinjara it is sometimes called the polis or pris, because its black-white colouring is so distinctive.