Willie, Willie Wagtail
perching on a cow
when the cow wags its tail
Willie flies away, away,
Willie flies away...
The Willie Wagtail is the largest, and most well-known, of the Australian fantails.
Fantails are known for holding their tail cocked, tilted to one side, alternately fanning and closing it, and swinging it from side to side while a bird is perched or moving around in the foliage of plants. They also use this tail posture when in flight, performing highly aerobatic, looping flights in order to catch their insect prey. Fantails tend to be restless, and rarely perch for long.
Willie Wagtails are active feeders. Birds can be seen darting around lawns as they hunt for insects on the ground they also often use domestic cattle both as a perch and to flush out insects.
Their nests are 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 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. 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.
I was inspired to make Willie by the generous tutorial and pattern for a 'sweetie bird' from Jessica at Seed Pod Craft which was featured in rhythm of the home - Thank you Jessica. (I fiddled with the pattern just a tad and of course added his fantail too). I am planning on making a few more of our unique Australian Animals in the next couple of terms at school and even hope to write a tutorial for a Kangaroo and her Joey - so watch this space.
*bird facts from here and here