Guardian Nature School Team Contact Blog Project Noah Facebook Project Noah Twitter

A global community of nature enthusiasts
photographing and learning about wildlife

Join Project Noah!
nature school apple icon

Project Noah Nature School visit nature school

Willie Wagtail

Rhipidura leucophrys leucophrys


The Willie Wagtail is the largest and most well-known of the Australian fantails. It's a passerine bird that belongs to the family Rhipiduridae, of which there are three subspecies. The plumage is black above with a white belly, and it 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. They can be aggressive and territorial, and will often harass much larger birds such as kookaburras, crows, and eagles. They are fearless! I have always loved these birds, and the eyebrows do it for me - they look so sinister! Willie Wagtails are found in most open habitats, especially open forests and woodlands, and are often associated with water-courses and wetlands. PS: Here's a good Youtube video -


This little fellow was spotted at Point Lookout on North Stradbroke Island. Exposed headland area with native vegetation. Willie Wagtails are found in most open habitats, especially open forests and woodlands, tending to be absent from wet sclerophyll forests and rainforests. They are often associated with water-courses and wetlands, and are common around human habitation.


I was having my lunch when this little guy showed up. He was curious but kept his distance, and he wasn't looking for handouts, preferring instead to feed on flying insects.

Species ID Suggestions

Sign in to suggest organism ID


Neil Ross
Neil Ross 6 years ago

I've never seen them around my yard or parks around my place, but do see them regularly in other parts of Brisbane. It's the same with many other bird species. They have their territories, and they rarely venture beyond them.

JamesPriest2 6 years ago

Have had a few around my yard recently, but not regular visitors. They are fascinating little birds

JoshuaGSmith 6 years ago

Surprising to see how much they resemble America's Black Phoebe!

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 7 years ago

It's a great name, and that's exactly what they do. They crack me up when they attack the big birds. Fearless and feisty. Gotta love em :)

What a name "Willie Wagtail"! Love the eye and whisker marks too. Cute species; interesting looking too, jay-like. Actually, eye marks remind me of those of the Scrub Jay's

Neil Ross
Spotted by
Neil Ross

Point Lookout, Queensland, Australia

Spotted on May 27, 2015
Submitted on May 30, 2015

Related Spottings

Willy wagtail Pied Fantail White Throated Fantail Willie Wagtail

Nearby Spottings

Coast Banksia Atlantic Glaucus Spotting Crested Pigeon
Noah Guardians
Noah Sponsors
join Project Noah Team

Join the Project Noah Team