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The 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.
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.
Willie Wagtails are active feeders. Birds can be seen darting around lawns as they hunt for insects on the ground. As they do so, the tail is wagged from side to side. Insects are also captured in the air, in active chases. 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.