Baby Willie Wagtails – at last

Willie Wagtail

Willie Wagtail

I have been puzzled throughout the spring about the absence of a Willie Wagtail nest in our garden. The resident adults have been flitting around all through the spring with no sign of a nest anywhere. Everyone else seemed to be busy raising their families. There have been nests everywhere and more recently baby birds calling to be fed all over the garden.

Willie Wagtail

Willie Wagtail

But not the Willie Wagtails. They usually nest within about twenty metres from the house for some reason. There are many suitable trees further a field but they insist on keeping close to home – our home that is. Despite thorough searches I have been unable to locate a nest this spring. Two days ago I observed both adults giving one of our Australian Magpies a very hard time, swooping and harassing the magpie until it flew away. A-ha I thought. There must be a nest somewhere nearby – but where?

Willie Wagtail (baby)

Willie Wagtail (baby)

Today we discovered two lovely recently fledged baby Willie Wagtails keeping their parents busy bringing them food. Whenever we approached too close the parents would tell us off in a very noisy manner. Keep away they seemed to be saying.

Despite even more searching I still didn’t find that nest.

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Updated Nov 2013.


87 Responses to “Baby Willie Wagtails – at last”

  1. Bev Jones says:

    Dear Trevor
    My nextdoor neighbour has been asked to care for two baby pigeons which fell out of a nest for a short while. However she does not know what to feed them. Could you offer some advice. It would be much appreciated. Thanks

    A Couple of Birdlovers

  2. Trevor says:

    Hi there Bev. Sorry about the delay in replying. I have replied to your question via email.

  3. wes says:

    hi, i had a nest right next to my house, everyday i went out to see how the eggs were going, however today i went out and found out half the nest was destroyed, 1 egg was missing, 1 egg was opened and (i think) eaten by a crow or something.
    and there was one whole egg, i have it in a nest shape “bowl” kind of thing, made from dog hairs, under a 60w lamp. if it hatches, what am i supposed to feed it, and how do i teach it to fly, catch food etc.

    please post back, thank you heaps.

    ps i havn’t seen/heard of the parents in like 1 day.

  4. wes says:

    it was a willie wagtail nest btw.

  5. Trevor says:

    Hi there Wes,

    It sounds like the adult birds have abandoned the nest. Ravens, crows, butcherbirds and currawongs will take the young and eggs from other species like Willie Wagtails who then leave the nest and sometimes start another.

    Unfortunately, I doubt that caring for the egg in the way you describe will see the egg hatch. This is a specialist area – people who keep and breed pet birds are experienced in these matters so I suggest you try to find your local bird club and contact them for advice or go to your local pet shop who will have contact names. I am not experienced in these matters.

  6. melissa says:

    I have just found your page ..lovely pictures .We have a resident a family of wagtails ..boy do they nest in odd places ..and get very irrate when disturbed !!

  7. Trevor says:

    Welcome to my blog Melissa. Willie Wagtails have to one of our most endearing birds, but you are right – they do find some unusual places to nest.

  8. Alexandra says:

    Hi there
    my name is alex and i have been keeping an eye on some willie wag tails and one of the babies have been kicked out of the nest what do i feed him and do i have to chew and regurjatate his food???

    please email me as soon as possible i need to know really quickly

  9. Trevor says:

    Hi there Alex – have you tried putting the baby back in the nest? The parents are the best ones to care for the baby.

  10. […] nest) and I wouldn’t be surprised at any of the flycatcher family using moss, including the Willie Wagtail, the Rufous and Grey Fantails. I should also mention the robins – of the 5 different species in […]

  11. Carren says:

    Hi, great blog.
    I just wanted to know if you could help me, you seem to know a lot about these birds.

    There are willy wagtails who made a nest in our lemon tree of our back yard…they had 3 eggs and all hatched around 4 days ago, they were adorable. This morning, however, I went to the nest and I found that none of the baby birds were there. I saw one of the parents on our fence when I went to check the nest, but then it flew away and I haven’t seen it since. The nest was slightly destroyed at the top, which worry’s me.

    I just want to know if there’s any possibility that they’ve moved to another nest or something and if they’re okay.

  12. Trevor says:

    Thanks Carren,

    Welcome to my bird blog.

    I’m afraid it sounds like a predator has taken them to feed itself or its own young. The death rate of baby birds is extremely high. Most species compensate for this by having 2 to 5 broods in the one breeding season.

    The most likely predators include magpies, currawongs, butcherbirds, hawks, cats, snakes and even lizards.

    This is heart wrenching for compassionate people like us, but it is the way of natural life cycles. If, for example, a currawong has taken the young, it is trying to ensure its own young grow and thrive.

    Keep watching the adult Willie Wagtails. There is plenty of time for them to nest again this season. They can successfully nest right up to February or even March.

  13. Emily says:

    Hi, I have a pair of Willy Wagtails that nest in a tree hanging over the lake in my garden every year. This year they have two babies, I have seen them they are still fluffy with some small wing feathers. However at different times of the day, the babies are sometimes not anywhere to be seen! Two days ago there were no babies in the nest, then I found one across the garden near the waters edge so I put it back in the nest on its own, and today there are two in there again. Do the parents stash the chicks somewhere else during the day? And now an hour later the parents are still acting very anxious when I am in the garden but I cant find the chicks anywhere!

  14. Trevor says:

    HI there Emily,

    I’m not sure what’s happening there. Just before they fledge – fly out of the nest – they are able to leave the nest and hop along the branch, but to actually leave the nest early and then return seems to me to be rather difficult for the baby bird. And I’ve never heard of birds hiding the babies out of sight. Rather odd behaviour.

  15. John says:

    I’m a late comer to this site. But we have always had wagtails feeding in the garden. This year we have a pair nesting. They are in an area which we go by every day. Needless to say we spend a lot of time just watching. And waiting. But do the young nest near to where they are hatched.

  16. Trevor says:

    Hi there John,

    Thanks for stopping by and or leaving a question.

    I’m not absolutely sure about this, but I suspect the young will go off when they are independent and find a territory of their own, searching for a mate in the process.

  17. Emily says:

    Hi John,We have a pair of Willys that have nested and lived at our address for about 15 years now. The same pair seem to be mates for life. In the wild (not suburbia) they prefer to build their nest on vegetation over water. Over the years, we have noticed that when the eggs are hatched, the babies grow extremely quickly and once they are able to fly out of the nest, its only a matter of days and they (the juveniles) are gone to be independent and you’ll never see them again.

  18. hayley says:

    Hi, my husband has just found a baby wagtail in our backyard, there is no nest to be found , I was after some tips on looking after the little fella

  19. Adam says:

    Hi John, You seem to be the bloke I’ve been looking for. I’ve been contracted to move a cement silo and found a nest containing 3 lil’ willy’s in it with 2 very active parents getting about on the silo ladder. We’ve had to move them, so I built a box with a bit of a landing pad and cover so that they are well protected. I watched them all day Friday and although the parents found the box some 40 metres from the original nest site they were reluctant to go in. Looking at where they were set up with a good view of the area the box might not suit them being too enclosed, and I’m now concerned for the youngs welfare. In your experience is it likely the parents will take to the box or do they see it as a risk? With no other areas close by to relocate them again, how long can they go without their parents feeding them before they’ll perish, and if I need to take them home what’s the best tucker for them? Thanks mate.

  20. Adam says:

    Sorry Trevor, I had put John as my adressee in my question regarding the baby Willy’s however it was meant for you mate, can you help me out please?

  21. Emily says:

    Hi Adam,
    As ‘Mum’ to a family of Willy’s every year I see that they always have their nest on a lower branch of a tree that is over water. The nest seems really exposed and visible for all to see. This is the plan however in reverse for the Willy’s to have a clear view themselves of all that is going on in their territory, so providing a sheltered box might not be the go because the Willy’s will feel more vulnerable because then they cant see anything thats going on.

  22. jack says:

    i found a pair of willy wagtails across the road from my house and they had eggs but a couple of days ago they left the eggs but i checked in on them every day for about two days unil i was positive the birds had actually left their babys, only one egg survived in the end and i took it home and put in under a lamp on some tissues but its almost hatched and i really need to know what baby willy wagtails eat…… please help me!

  23. tom says:

    at my backyard porch, there is a pole rising up nearly touchign the roof but not quite. will wag tails have built their nest there every time they get out they bump their heads and im afraid the nest is to small

  24. Trevor says:

    Hi there Tom,

    Thanks for visiting and for leaving your comments. I hope the WWs don’t get a headache!

    As for the size of the nest, this is quite normal. It always amazes me that WWs make an intricate and delicate nest of cobwebs, grass, wool or whatever materials are available but then they go and make it several sizes too small! Most WW nests will contain one chick comfortably. Then they usually lay 3 or 4 eggs. Just before they fledge (fly off the nest) the babies are certainly overflowing their tiny home.

  25. John says:

    We had willy wagtails nesting in our garden. But the second lot of eggs did not hatch. At the end of 28 days. The nest was abandoned and the eggs disapeared. The nest was destoyed by other birds looking for nesting materials. Is it possible for another pair to take over the nesting site with a new nest?

  26. Trevor says:

    John – like many of our smaller birds, Willie Wagtails will often nest 3 or more times in a breeding season which can last from August through to January. If one pair leaves (unusual) or dies another pair may come in and take over the abandoned territory.

  27. joan johnson says:

    i would like to know what to feed baby wagtails and baby sparrows

  28. tom says:

    Ok i put a i checked the mirror and theres 1 egg in the nest!
    i didnt know the egg was that small but there is only 1 egg will there be more eggs coming?

  29. tom says:

    Hmm it seems that WW’s dont sit on the nest at night doesnt the egg get cold? do birds sleep?

  30. Tania says:

    Hi there
    Maybe you can help me. We have ww’s nesting near our back door and the three babies are getting quite big now. We were wondering how long it takes them to fly as we have two dogs that we will keep away when they are trying to learn to fly. Do they normally fall to the ground or just take off. Thanks

  31. John says:

    Hi Tania. When we had hatchlings. It was about 2 weeks before they flew. Although they came back at night. Seemed strange to see w/w without the tail. John.

  32. Tania says:

    Thanks John. We have maybe another week before our dogs go into lock up. I can’t wait to see them fly is it an instinct they have as soon as they leave the nest or do they struggle for a bit? Also how long do they come back to the nest for at night? Lucky they have no tail as I think they wouldn’t fit in the nest if they did. I can’t wait to see them fly.

  33. John says:

    Hi Tania. When our’s flew. It was staight out of the nest. It was our first experience with them. And I was very surprised that it was out and away without ant pratice

  34. tom says:

    Woah thats soooooo cute the adult WW is sleeping on the nest and warming the eggs right now(night)

  35. Tania says:

    Thanks again John. They took their first flight out of the nest on Sunday. The 3 of them seem to pretty much stuck together all day in the peppy tree. They are facsinating I watched them nearly all day and could of again today if it wasn’t for work. A sickie did cross my mind.:)

  36. tom says:

    ok the 2 birds took there first flight 3 days early because 1 fell down and the other folowed the parents flew after them to search for them when i woke up this morning the 2 babies are sitting on the antenna and the parents are looking for food

  37. Trevor says:

    Hi Tom – that’s great news. I discovered yesterday that our WWs have sneakily nested again without us knowing and are now feeding their second brood for the season. Wonderful.

  38. Trevor says:

    Hi there Tom,

    Sorry – one of your questions hasn’t been fully answered and I’ve just picked up on it.

    Birds DO sleep, but usually in the way humans understand sleep. For more about birds and sleep go to one of these sites:

  39. Fiona says:

    I am distressed about a w.wagtail this morning at my front door without any tail. I thought it was dead. Her baby was perched not far from her. The father was flying around the bird on the ground. I quickly got a shoe box and made it into a a nest with straw and an opening with air vents. My cat (who is inside) ran to the window which frightened the baby and the mother was not dead as it flew away. I am so concerned about the bird. They are not too far away because the male bird keeps chattering. I have tied the house up under the eaves of the bullnose verandah and cannot be accessed or attacked by preditors, if only they knew it was there. Can you advise me thanks Fiona.

  40. Trevor says:

    Hi Fiona,

    Sorry for the delay in answering your question; I’ve been out all evening celebrating my wife’s birthday.

    There are two possibilities for why the bird was on the ground looking dead. The most likely is that it accidentally flew into a window and stunned itself. At certain times of the year the light and reflections in windows cause birds to think they can fly straight through – until they hit the glass. While this can kill a bird flying at speed, most garden birds aren’t going so fast, so they only get stunned for a few minutes until they recover.

    The second possibility is that the bird was sunning itself. Many birds stretch out on the ground for several minutes and then fly off. I think I read somewhere that they do this in an attempt to get rid of lice. Our magpies have been observed doing this many times, even on days of 45 degree heat.

    I’d say that your bird will be okay, so it’s probably best to stop worrying.

  41. ollivia says:

    hi im just wanting a question awnsered we live in a unit and behind our unit there is a paddock with lots of trees right along our back fence we have many of these willy wag tails here i am trying to find out how to try get them to move to another tree as there is so many we are awoken at all ours by there whisstle i absolutly adore them but we have children and we need our sleep thank you

  42. jessie says:

    hi my names jess im 15 yrs of age and im just worried about the ww’s

    umm we have a pair of ww’s that are around our house all the time have been ever since we moved in. umm this year the mother layed 2 eggs. umm the eggs hatched a couple days ago and ive been watching the birds over the days but the parents seem to be ignoring the babies ever since they hatched neither of the parents have been feeding the babies. im a bit worried about them should i try and feed the babies and what should i feed them. or will the parents start to feed them soon. cause i noticed that the birds have been making kills on bugs but they have never seemed to feed the babies as i spend all day out side with my lorikeet. :/ please reply soon

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Jessie,

      As you have observed the Willie Wagtails are insect eaters, so it would be very hard to feed the babies by yourself. I think you should just let the parents do the feeding – they know how much and when to feed them.

      If the worst happens and they abandon the babies, be assured that there is probably a very good reason for this, and they will nest again this breeding season. Many birds, like the WWs, will nest 3 or 4 times each breeding season.

  43. jessie says:

    *sorry i was meant to say *Havent been feeding the babies

  44. Jen says:

    We have 2 WW in our backyard, noticed the nest about a month ago and just a few days ago the babies emerged. They are constantly sitting in a tree right next to our outdoor area, with the parents close by. Which means that we are confronted with a nasty chattering from the parents whenever we go outside. This is bothering me because I am worried I will be attacked by the parents and swooped. Will they hurt humans or will they get use to us going outside to hang washing and sit at our outdoor table etc?? Also my husband needs to trim the lower branches of the tree that the nest is in to make it easier for him to mow, can he do that without disturbing the nest too much? Will they swoop him? Would they abandon the nest if the tree is disturbed too much? Thanks for your reply

    • Trevor says:

      We have three baby WWs in our garden too, and they also are behaving like you describe. This is quite normal and I’ve never known the parents to swoop or make contact with humans. Just go about your normal activities and enjoy them; you are quite safe.

      In a few weeks’ time the babies will be able to fend for themselves and the parents won’t be at all concerned. The young will head off somewhere else to establish their own territories.

      Once they are gone the parents may nest again; this can happen several times in the breeding season (spring/summer). They may also refurbish the old nest and use it again, so in the next few days it would be the best time to trim this branches. If they nest again it is possible they might abandon the nest if disturbed too much, but they are probably like our birds and so used to us they don’t worry too much if we get too close to the nest occasionally.

      • Jen says:

        Thanks so much! Have managed to get close enough to the babies in the tree to take some photos, not so good but Mother/Father WW was going back and forwards catching bugs and feeding them. I wasn’t quite quick enough to get that shot, it happens so fast!

  45. Angelina says:

    Hi, I have had a family of willy wagtails in my carport for a few
    Weeks now. This morning when I went to check on them the nest had been knocked on the ground, one baby was on the ground and the other was on my car so I picked them up and put them back in the nest. Mum and dad were still near by and fed the babies all day. We had to go out for a few hours. We were gone for 5 hours all up and when we got back mum and dad were nowhere to be seen. (there is a chance my dog could have got them) So I waited a few Hours and checked on them again before bed but still no mum and dad. And there has always been one parent with them at night i noticed. There was however a snake on the fence about 5 meters away. So now I have two baby willy wagtails cos I wasn’t leaving them out there for the snakes dinner. We’ve already saved them from a snake when they were still eggs. So my question to you is what do I feed them? Will bloodworms and water from a baby medicine syringe be ok? They are only young birds. They can’t fly yet but have got feathers. Please help me

  46. brady says:

    how many babies do they have

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Brady,

      Willie Wagtails usually have 2 or 3 young, though sometimes they may have only 1 and on rare occasions 4. I am always amazed how 3 growing babies can fit into the small nest – 4 would seem nearly impossible.

  47. Kirsty says:

    We have a willy wagtail keeping us awake at all hours of the night, how do we let it know to move onto another tree? I’m waking around like a zombie!

  48. Mel says:

    Hi I have had three little baby willys hatch at my house and need some info. The nest is very close to the tin roof and it is extremely hot, I’m worried about heat stress. I have put water out for the parents what else can I do?

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Mel,

      Sadly it might already be too late. As with most animals and baby humans, the onset of heat stress can be very rapid. By providing water for the parents you have done about all that is possible.

      It is my theory that this is an inexperienced young pair of birds. I hope that they learn from this experience and pick a more suitable nest site next time.

      It could also be that this unseasonably warm weather has caught them by surprise. One doesn’t expect temperatures in the high 30s and low 40s like we are having in southern Australia this week.

  49. Felicity says:

    Hi. For the past month or so I have watched a pair of Willie Wagtails build a nest, lay their eggs and feed their 3 babies on the beams of my patio roof. The babies are now 2 weeks old and very big. This evening, my pet rabbit ran underneath the nest, scaring the babies. 2 of them flew straight from the nest into a large tree in the neighbor’s yard. There was a big commotion as another bird landed in the tree and the parents went crazy! That led to the babies taking off again (I saw one fly even higher into a large gum tree and I’m not sure where the other one went). One lone bird is still in the nest and the parents are still going crazy. They look very distressed and I feel like they may have lost their babies. I was under the impression that they would hop around on the ground together for a week or so before flying away. Does anyone know if this is normal behaviour? Is it likely that the parents will locate them and look after them in the trees? I am so worried about them and feel so guilty that they were scared out rather than leaving on their own terms.

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Felicity,
      Sorry about the delay in replying. What you have described is fairly common behaviour. The parents are very good at keeping track of the fledglings once they leave the nest. The fact that they could fly means that they were quite ready to leave the nest, and they usually do not return to the nest once they leave. It is now nearly a week since your comments – have you an update on their welfare?

  50. Talia says:

    We have this wily wag tail nest next to our front door. The parents would sit on it every day. Yesterday we woke up and saw the nest on the ground. The parent were nowere to be seen and this cracked egg was laying on the ground. My daught went to look at the egg. When we loookedvat it we realised the baby bird was still in there and its beak was moving. We dont know what to do because the parents arnt around.

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Talia,

      The nest was possibly destroyed by a predator such as an owl, hawk, or eagle. More likely it was destroyed by a cat. There is very little you can do for such a young bird. Don’t worry – this happens quite often and the adults will probably nest again, I hope in a much safer location.

  51. Amy says:

    My friend is dropping off an injured Willy Wagtail to me this evening, it was chewed on by a cat… I’d like to please know what to feed it, I have a budgie and a weiro already, is birdseed alright? I have seen ducks eat birdseed…. so is it a universal thing for all birds to eat?

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Amy, sorry about the delay in replying. Willie Wagtails are largely insectivorous and not seed eaters. They need specialist care so I suggest you contact your local wildlife rescue people for advice. The number should be in the phone directory – or check the directories online.

  52. Amy says:

    It’s OK it died in my hand the next day because i didn’t know how to look after it

  53. Dianne says:

    Hello Trevor,
    I was wondering if you know what happens to old Willie Wagtail nests. I’ve had in in a Casuarina for about 4 – 5 years. Each year, The Willy Wagtails have occupied it early summer & a couple of times, magpies have occupied the nest in late summer. This season, there was a pair up until about Xmas. I’m pretty sure I heard babies, but as the nest’s about 9 – 10 metres from the ground, can’t be sure.
    Anyway, the entire nest’s disappeared. It was such a solid thing, that I would have thought at least part of it would have been still intact if it fell. Would crows or some large bird steal an entire nest?
    Do you think I’ll eventually get another in the same tree. I’m going to miss looking forward to the little babies each year.

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Dianne,

      Generally Willie wagtail nests are very flimsy – especially if they have 3 or 4 babies. Four young in a small nest stretch it beyond re-use. Quite often the parents will either renovate – or use the nesting material to make a new nest. Other species – like honeyeaters – are also quick to take the materials from an old nest and use it to make their own nests. Sometimes the eggs or nestlings are taken by magpies, ravens, currawongs etc and these species can roughly destroy a nest.

      I am a bit puzzled by your comment that magpies have occupied the old nest. That would not be a good fit – the magpie is a much bigger bird that the WW.

      Willie wagtails, like so many small birds, often nest 2 – 4 times during a breeding season, and they tend to use the same tree over and over, or move to another one close by. The pair in our garden – we have a 5 acre block – almost always nest several times a season and almost always within a 40 metre radius of one spot.

      If the birds which have nested in your tree are still around, I am confident that they will nest again – in the same tree, or one very close by. If the birds are no longer around, it is quite possible that another pair will take over this territory.

  54. birdlover says:

    I have discovered a nest under cover near my back door full with baby wag tails is now sadly with out parents, a cat has taken them some time today i am sure, there is no sign of them, so i brought the whole nest inside, it is very cold outside and i have covered them with warm cloth..i am worried about them they are only a week or so old at the most, they will be starving and I don’t know what to do, any suggestions, I’m thinking to take them to a vet about 30 mins away, i live rural and miles out. I am so sad about the parents they were doing a wonderful job and nest here every year..

    • Trevor says:

      Thanks for your question. The sad reality of life in the raw is the high attrition rate of small birds and especially nestlings. For this reason many species have multiple broods every breeding season giving at least one or two a chance of survival. Cats, owls, eagles, hawks, magpies, currawongs, butcherbirds and ravens all take their toll on small birds.

      As for the baby birds in your care, I would be surprised if they survive the night. They would be very hard for you to feed them as they require constant feeding. It might be worth contacting the vet for advice or better yet, any wildlife carers in your region. Sorry I can’t help any more than that.

  55. Sam says:

    Hi. I have a pair of WW that had 3 babies in their last brood. Now they’ve come back and there’s only 1 egg this time in the nest. Is that common? thanks, Sam

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Sam,

      This is quite common. WWs – and many other smaller birds, like the honeyeaters, finches, thornbills etc, can have one to four broods in a breeding season. In the case of the WWs the clutch of eggs can vary from 1 to 4. How 4 nearly fledged WWs can fit in the small nest always amazes me.

      • Sam says:

        Trevor do you have an email address? I have some fascinating photos I’ve taken of the last brood and I think you’ll be amazed when you see where they built their nest! I’ve never seen the likes of it 🙂 regards, Sam

  56. Jess and Ryan says:

    Hi I have a baby willy wag tail egg and I’m not sure what to do with it like how to raise it and make sure it servives

  57. Jessica Tolver banks says:

    Hi I have a baby willy wag tail egg and I’m not sure how to keep it warm to bring it up so it servives

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Jessica, sorry for the delay in replying. I was travelling interstate when your question came in and I did not have internet access on the road. Sadly, there is nothing you can do to rescue eggs once the parents have abandoned them. If left for even a few minutes it will be too long, and the egg will not hatch.

  58. Vivian says:

    Hi, we have 2 baby WW that we are trying to care for.
    Mum & Dad have left their newborns not sure why. They are tiny, little or no feather and their eyes are not open.
    We have been keeping them warm in their nest and feeding every few hours. Mealworms and crickets and flys.
    They seem to be feeding well.
    Is there anything else we should be doing to keep them strong??

  59. Fliss says:

    Hi how am I soposed to know if the willie wagtail eggs in the nest have hatched

  60. Liz says:

    Hello, hope you can help please. I am so sad, we had pair of Willie Wagtails making a nest under our patio. We love these birds, they [family] have been coming for years. So, there were three eggs in the nest. Babies hatched and all went well. After the third day, we went outside to have a BBQ, and I think I was too close to the nest. One of the birds swooped me very low continuously. My husband came out to BBQ, and the next minute the bird threw her babies out of the nest. I tried to save one of the birds. I just don not understand why she would do such a thing? They were perfect 🙁

    Thank you,

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Liz, Thanks for your description of what happened to the birds in your garden. This is quite bizarre behaviour and I am at a loss to think of a reasonable explanation. Normally, I would consult my extensive reference library, but I am interstate at present and won’t be home for another two weeks. I am hoping that some of my readers can throw some light on this unusual behaviour. In the meantime, allow the parents to either nest again, preferably a little further away from the BBQ. This species will often have three or four broods in a season, so there is hope for the future. If they reuse the old nest, it may be wise to stay away from the nest until the young fledge and fly off.

  61. Katrina says:

    Hello, we have discovered a nest of WW’s (3 chicks) nesting under the eve of the verandah, delightful to see their nest so close, but this verandah is within an exclusive dog enclosure. The dogs can’t reach the nest but I am worried the babies (3) will drop onto the verandah as they practice flying. I’ve read a number of posts here, you’ve said they fledge once ready. My question is will they stay on the beam their nest is on as they get ready to go? If they drop to the verandah the dogs will have them :(, we have no where else to locate the dogs (3 big wolfhounds) for the duration. I presume the dogs provide a handy alarm for anything that comes near, they have an excellent view of the surrounding yard/paddocks and are protected from weather etc. Hoping for a reply with more detail on when/for how long/process the chicks get up to as they prepare to fledge. If they simply stay put until ready it’s an ideal spot, but it will be sad to think they are doomed before they fledge. Many thanks.

  62. L.B. says:

    We felt compelled to relocate a nest attached to a big branch over-hanging our fence as tree-loppers were about to take down a large tree on the adjoining property. The WW parents were naturally very upset at our intrusion! We never handled the nest itself but carefully carried and tied the removed branch (with attached nest and WW baby still inside) to a nearby tree in our own yard in the hope that the parents would follow its chirps and be reunited. That hasn’t happened as yet with the baby remaining silent and the parents still flitting around the area of original nest location apparently mystified. Do you think the parents will be able to locate the nest in its new spot and resume parenting or will the whole episode have been too disruptive, and the geographic change too unusual?

  63. Margaret carter says:

    I have a baby willywagtail fallen from nest in an open bricked pathway. The wind is blowing and she is very exposed. Her parents are stressed but feeding her, should I try to move her to a more protected area.

  64. Lorraine Nitschke (Hastwell) says:

    Hi Trevor – I note from this page that you are interested in Willy Wagtails! My husband and I have a couple of WWs that are visiting and feeding, and we are curious about how they feed their young. We notice that they seem to eat the mince we give them, so are wondering whether they regurgitate for the babies?


  65. Phill says:

    Hi. We have had a pair of willie wagtails using our bird bath at our home in south west Western Australia for three years. We refresh the water twice a day and there is a large topiary either side. They have successfully raised several babies each year but a month ago, not long after the last three babies were ushered away the parent birds disappeared. We had a hotter week than normal at the time they disappeared but made sure their water was changed their water more than usual. We miss their busy presence- why would they have gone? Nothing has changed around our house and there are no dogs or cats nearby.
    Thank you

  66. Eric Grisey says:

    Feeding Orphaned Willie Wag Tail Babies

    I see a number of enquires seeking advice on feeding orphaned Willie Wag Tail Babies. We have successfully used “Insectivore Rearing Mix” made by “Wombaroo” to feed a baby honey eater who fell from a nest. Available from pet shops and designed for insect eating birds so should be OK for Wagtails (currently also nesting in our backyard in Perth.

  67. Rashmi Vij says:

    we had a couple of WW nest last season and again this season. They have successfully hatched one lot. Then they came back to lay eggs again. Both Mum and Dad were happily sitting on the eggs. Now suddenly since yesterday, they have abandoned the nest with three eggs. We don’t have any cats or dogs. We don’t go near their nest, and, if we do go near the veggie patch they just sit in the nest and look at us. I wonder why they would abandon their eggs. Do you have any explanation for this? Thank you.

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