Willie Wagtail accident

One of the common bird species around home here in Murray Bridge is the Willie Wagtail. This is a widespread species throughout Australia and is familiar to most people, even those with little interest in birds. We have a resident breeding pair in our garden.

From time to time one of them comes to visit our bird bath. This morning I saw the water splashing in all directions so I raced into the office to grab my digital camera. This is one species that has eluded my camera thus far.

I managed to take about eight photos before disaster struck. The Willie Wagtail upset the bird bath, knocking it and the contents to the ground. I was surprised because I had thought that even bigger birds would not be able to tip it over. It’s perched on the cut down trunk of an old dead mallee tree and has a brick inside it.

The Willie Wagtail nonchalantly flew to a nearby branch, gave his feathers a shake, preened for a few seconds and then flew off.

Perhaps I need a bigger brick.

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Willie Wagtail

Willie Wagtail


138 Responses to “Willie Wagtail accident”

  1. monica says:

    a couple of willie wagtails have built their nest two meters in front of my kitchen window on top of a plank of wood under the pergola.
    once she begins to sit on the nest how long does she take to lay eggs and how long before they hatch, generally speaking.

  2. Trevor says:

    Hi there Monica. Welcome to my blog. I hope that enjoyed your visit.

    Willie Wagtails are high on my list of favourite birds. To have them nesting so close to your window is wonderful and means you will be able to keep a close eye on the nest and the development of the young as they grow. Keep your distance and try not to disturb the nest as this may frighten the adults away. The adults may abandon the eggs or young if you go too close too often.

    The usual clutch size is three eggs, though sometimes 2 or 4. It is amazing to see 4 chicks almost ready to fly trying to occupy the tiny nest. It is a wonder they don’t all fall out!

    After the laying of the last egg incubation usually takes about 14 days and the young fledge (able to fly) in about another 14 days.

    So enjoy the next 28 days.

  3. Colleen says:

    A pair of Willie Wagtails have built their nest about a meter off the ground in our back yard – what could they have been thinking, as we have a cat which regularly patrol that area? Should I disturb the nest to encourage them to go elsewhere so as to prevent disaster, or do they realy know what they are doing?

  4. Trevor says:

    Hi there Colleen. Thanks for visiting my blog.

    It is quite amazing where some birds build their nests. Willie Wagtails quite often make their nest as low as a metre.

    In my opinion it would be best to leave the nest alone. Just stand back and enjoy their presence.

    I do, however, fear for your cat’s safety. They will harass it endlessly as passes by. Is it possible to keep the cat inside until the baby birds fly off? Another solution might be to put a temporary fence around the nest area to keep the cat away.

    I hope it all goes well.

  5. Karen says:

    Hi Trevor. For the 2nd year running we have WW nest built in a climbing rose on our verandah post. Our 2 small children have been very excited about the progress the birds have been making to rebuild the nest from last year & prepare it again. Using a mirror, I have seen 3 eggs, and thismorning the birds were acting quite strange and my 7 old daughter wondered if the eggs had hatched (about 14 days from laying according to my calender), so right on cue, I checked thismorning and they are proud parents !!! I mowed the lawn yesterday right under their noses and they really don’t seem to mind me, but not to keen on my husband! It is a wonderful experience for our family, but we think one of our resident doves needs a lesson in nest building, because also 2 years running she has stuck a few twigs together & probably wondered why her eggs keep ending up smashed on the ground with the first big wind.!! Quite sad.

  6. Trevor says:

    Hi there Karen,

    It is exciting to have wild birds nesting so close to one’s house. Only this morning we saw a WW bombing one of our resident Ravens – it was actually landing on its back and giving it a fierce telling off. I haven’t had the time today to search out if the WWs have made nest nearby.

    Doves and pigeons make the most incredibly poor excuses for nests. I have actually stood under a Bronzewing Pigeon’s nest and counted the eggs! They just seem to be very lazy and throw together a few sticks and are content with that. How the eggs or babies don’t fall through beats me.

  7. karen says:

    hi we have a nest in our holly tree just outside our back door we have had three babys already and the nest has now got three or maybe even four new babys is this normal to have come and laid a second lot of eggs?

  8. Trevor says:

    Thanks for stopping by Karen.

    Willie wagtails can nest twice or even three times in a breeding season. This is not unusual.

  9. Marelda Kelly says:

    Dear Trevor,
    Last year I noticed a willie Wagtail was interested in a cross beam of my patio. My attempt at helping them build a nest was unuccessful. THIS year, my son and I got a stick from the near by park and attached it to the beam. Mr and Mrs Willie Wagtail are now the proud parents to be of a number of eggs. Sadly, I discovered one on the table top today. Hopefully the rest will survive. Great Web Site, thanks. Regards Marelda WA.

  10. Trevor says:

    Hi there Marelda,

    Welcome to my bird blog. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a few comments.

    You’ve done well to encourage the local Willie Wagtails to come and nest under your patio. They are wonderful birds and quite endearing, not to mention comfortable around humans. The resident WWs in our garden almost always nest within 20 metres of the house.

    The attrition rate with eggs and nestlings is quite high in many species. Predators like butcherbirds, currawongs, ravens, crows, magpies and rats (to name a few) will attempt to take them from the nest. We also have about a dozen species of cuckoos in Australia. No – they don’t make the cuckoo call like the clock. They will parasitise the nests of many other species. They lay an egg in the host nest of a honeyeater, thornbill or wagtail. The host – unsuspecting the intruder – hatches the egg. The cuckoo invariably hatches first, and the hour old chick then pushes the rest of the unhatched eggs out of the nest. The cuckoo chick then gets all the attention and all the food. Sneaky way to have young – no responsibility.

  11. Joann Beckett says:

    Hi there Trevor
    We have a pair of Willy Wagtails that have built their nest on the arm of our backdoor awning! The metal arm support is approx 6inches above eye level and about 1mtre in length so I can’t see into the nest….however a week or so ago I held my camera above the nest and snapped away…she has 3 beautiful eggs in there! My partner and I can’t wait till her babies hatch, I’m sure Mr and Mrs W/W will make wonderful parents. We have had a lot of rain over the past week and they have been on that nest all the time….very clever to nest where they have as it is under ‘shelter’ safely away from the maggies, crows and cockies that are about. These birds would’nt eventuate so close to our backdoor ….quite intelligent “our fine little feathered friends”. I just can’t imagine any anyone complaining about the beautiful sounds of birds.I truly find everything about “mother nature and the animal kingdom’………simply wonderful!
    nice to chat…happy days
    Jo Beckett

  12. Trevor says:

    Thanks for visiting my blog, Jo.

    Willie Wagtails are certainly endearing birds to have as residents in your garden. Our resident pair usually nest within about 30 metres of our back door (we live on 5 acres). It is well documented that they often choose to nest close to human habitation. Nesting on artificial structures like your awning arm is also quite common. Enjoy their trust in you. They obviously love and appreciate the shelter you have provided.

  13. Jo Beckett says:

    Once again….

    Hi there Trevor,

    Thank-you for your reply and kind words. How very lucky you are to have such a large backyard for our ‘feathered friends’ to come visit you.
    Late in the evening I wrote you I noticed Mrs W/W standing on the rim of her nest……guess what I saw….one dear little head stretched upward for something to eat! I was overcome with the most wonderful emotions, hard to describe but I’m sure you know what I mean.
    Yesterday, I saw three little upward stretched necks all wanting a bite of mums’ offerings… the babies have ‘hatched’ and I wanted to share the news with you.
    I’m full of joy and am in awe of being a trusted member to ‘our little Willy Wagtail family’. My family and friends………just don’t ‘get it’!
    Happy days to you
    (Joann Beckett)

  14. Trevor says:

    Hi Jo, exciting news! Thanks for sharing your joy in the new arrivals!

    Now comes the fun bit. Willie and Wilma Wagtail will be busy feeding those hungry mouths over the next few weeks. And you will swear that they are growing as you watch.

    Then on the few days before they fledge and fly the nest, they will seem to overflow their tiny home. How they stay in the nest without toppling out beats me. Sometimes they will have four big babies in the one tiny nest! Amazing.

    Keep in touch.

  15. Jo Beckett says:

    Hi Trevor ……you know ‘birds’ very well!

    Willie and Wilma (I love the names you have given them, incidentally) are flittering and fluttering all day long gathering food for their greedy little ones…..and yes, they are growing as I watch them…….TRULY AMAZING !

    I have been taking photos of their progress but unfortunately because of where the nest is situated, I’m snapping upwards towards sun light and a lot are not very good…however, I am racking my brains as to how I can go about getting better shots…will keep you posted!

    Happy days to you

    PS Good luck in the Melbourne Cup….if you’re having a ‘flutter’.

  16. Trevor says:

    H Jo,

    Thanks for the update.

    Photographing birds can be highly rewarding but is not without frustrations as well, as you are finding out.

    Suggestions: is there a way of temporarily placing a piece of cardboard to block out the sun and then using your camera flash? This is bordering on interfering with nesting birds so you’d need to do it quickly without disturbing the birds too much. Perhaps trying at different times of the day might alter the light situation too. Just a thought.

    I don’t bother with the Cup – I would have had a “Shocking” result if I had because I would have picked the South Aussie horse Alcopop.

  17. Marelda Kelly says:

    Hi again Trevor,
    Up date on Mr and Mrs WWT in Western Australia. Two babies off into the world, some more on the way! Much to my husbands disgust! We lose our patio for another few weeks. What a price to pay for the gift of watching the birds.

    Just something slightly off centre. The WWT started building their nest, late August, when my mum was rediagnosed with lymphoma. Unfortunately she lost this battle, but she is no longer suffering which of course is great. The reason for writing is that before Mum’s funeral one baby WWT left the next and upone return from the funeral baby WWT number two had also left. What a gift it has been to see the baby WWT around our house like two new little souls. Thanks again for your website, regards Marelda WA

  18. Trevor says:

    Thanks for sharing with us Marelda. They are a real delight to have around the garden. We currently have a noisy family of Mallee Ringnecks (Similar to your Twenty Eight Parrots) in our garden, and the constant begging of the 2 young ones can be heard throughout the day.

    Sorry to hear of your mother’s passing, but as you say, her suffering is over. Despite knowing this it is still hard to take and refocussing on positives like the new life in the bird world is comforting stuff.


  19. JO BECKETT says:

    Hi Trevor …its Jo!
    I don’t know where my lasts posts went to as they are not on your ‘wall’. Its been over 2weeks since we were lucky enough to see ‘the flight’ of the 3rd baby W/W accompanied by its parents…what a sight to behold! I wrote and asked you if we would ever see them again? It was about 2 days later I was down in the yard and I heard the babies cheeping and found them in our big tree….I got some lovely photos of them over the next week ….now they have ‘moved on’ as I can’t see them any more. Mum and Dad are still about, I see and hear them all the time. Yesterday we noticed that the nest has been very much tampered with by mum and dad W/WT and bits are missing….looks like its being destroyed?*’
    Could you please tell me what this means….I’m hoping that we have’nt deterred them from ever nesting there again and feel that we gave them a lot of privacy (apart from the photos which may have been intruding for them)…I can’t think why they have done this!
    Thank-you and Happy days to you.
    Jo Beckett

  20. JO BECKETT says:

    Jo back…I think I did’nt fill in ‘the mail publish field’ for a reply from you …..what a pity!
    have a great day…..and hello to all the bird lovers out there!

  21. Trevor says:

    Thanks for the update Jo.

    Are you sure it is the Willie Wagtails tampering with the nest? It could be other species using the materials for their own nests – or even the WWs themselves using it to make a totally new nest somewhere else nearby.

  22. JO BECKETT says:

    Goodmorning Trevor

    You are absolutely right…..Mr & Mrs W/WT have rebuilt a new nest approx 4mtres from our back door using their old nest…particularly the base material, they took all of that! We found the remnants of the old nest on the ground under where it was built, very secure and safe from preditors. I think they realised it was a bit too close to us humans and have resettled in one of our yard trees.

    I’m a little concerned as the new nest that is completed is in the middle of a small light branch that just moves with even the slightest breeze…. we’re hoping that their new babies will be safe. ‘Here we go again’ and we’re still very excited!

    Happy day
    regards Jo

  23. Trevor says:

    That’s good news Jo. Here’s hoping you don’t get too much wind in the next few weeks. It’s very windy here in SA this morning.

  24. Marelda Kelly says:

    Mr and Mrs WWT of WA are now the proud parents of babies number 3, 4 and 5. I would have thought that mum and dad would have been used to us in the garden, or hammock by now, but it seems that they have amped up the defensive schedule for the three baby birds. Score so far: Mrs WWT Two direct hits of my head, Mr WWT One. He’s a little bit more chilled out. (Not that I can tell which one is mum or dad!)
    ๐Ÿ™‚ Marelda

  25. JO BECKETT says:

    Hi there Trevor
    Well, since your last post….we’ve had nothing but wind and breezes! I guess they have blown over from SA and I hope you have nothing but ‘sunshine’now. I’ve been keeping a close watch on this new nest. Beats me how the things stays on that narrow branch but I suppose our feathered friends are ‘good homemakers’ and its still there. On closer inspection Trevor, I don’t think it is the same couple. I got to know the other pair quite well by site… as I watched them all the time and felt they were a part of our family. There seems to be 4 WWTs hanging around our yard and its much noisier too…than having 1pr of WWTS. Is that possible? Must go and study who’s sitting on the nest in the morning!
    Happy days

  26. Trevor says:

    Hi again Jo,

    It’s still windy here in SA, though Tuesday was lovely.

    Willie Wagtails normally defend a loose territory where they and are resident. Their territories don’t seem to be as clearly defined as other species like the Australian Magpie. Other individuals will sometimes wander into their territory, and they will usually get chased off if there is a nest with eggs or young.

    I’m guessing that the new “pair” are part of the extended family. (One can only truly call them a pair if you actually observe mating or both attending a nest.)

    Juveniles can hang around for quite a few months and although they are fully independent, still form a part of the family unit. I think I’ve read somewhere that these “teenagers” (to use a human term) will sometimes help feed the next brood, their younger siblings.

    While Willie Wagtails are most often seen singly or in pairs, small loose flocks can occur – anything up to a dozen in the one area. Most of these are probably independent juveniles who will move off to form their own territories during the next breeding season.

    There has been at least one record of about 40 WWs in an area of about a 50 metre circle, but this is unusual. Must have been plenty of good tucker there!

    Enjoy your extended family.

  27. JO BECKETT says:

    Thanks for that info Trevor, much appreciated. I hope they are the original babies hanging around!
    Sunshine and breezey in Sydney to-day.
    Have a great afternoon,

  28. Greta says:

    G”day Trevor,please put my mind at rest that my nesting w.w.’s babies are ok they were there late evening yesterday (had rain o’night) nest is undisturbed but no sign this a.m. there were 3 and i think they are termed fledglings(had feathers)there little heads appeared over edge of nest about 10 days ago.how does mum get 3 out of the nest to train them and will they come back to the nest after their “day out” i have found this to be a very humbling xperience the tree is a jacanda and the nest it on the end of a fragile branch o’side my b’room window i have been running out and clapping my hands to keep the crows away i had this empty nest syndrome when my children left home!!!!In love and light Greta

  29. Jo Beckett says:

    Happy New Year to you and your family Trevor.

    Been a while since I wrote you and just saw your new post, are’nt birds just beautiful to see when they’re taking a bath….lucky you! Its a shame humans don’t look quite as cute bathing?
    Well, that new nest I wrote you about did not eventuate unfortunately, so we have no more Willies hanging round our yard at present. I hope our Mr and Mrs W/W Tail come nesting here next season! Meanwhile…..enjoy your little ‘feathered friends’!!
    Be well and have a great day!

  30. Marelda Kelly says:

    Hi Trevor and all,

    My WW family finally realised that there last three eggs were,’t going to hatch. I think placed under the patio roof over christmas and New Year, they cooked. Sigh. Everynow and then one of the WWs sits on the nest.

    Should I remove the eggs, or will they take care of that themselves?

    Kind regards and Happy New Year to everyone.


  31. Trevor says:

    Hi there Greta and Jo,

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with Willie Wagtails with my readers.

  32. Trevor says:

    Hi there Marelda,

    Many of our bird species nest multiple times in a season, including WWs. As it is getting late in the breeding season I’m not surprised that this latest attempt was unsuccessful. We’ve had some very hot weather here in southern Australia this summer and this can adversely affect the eggs or young.

    I wouldn’t worry about the eggs. It is quite likely that a predator (raven, magpie, butcherbird etc) has eaten them. If the nest survives until early spring they may well use it again – refurbished for the new family of course!

  33. Emma says:

    Hi about 3 days ago now some WW nested in the pergola on a wooden beam they seemed quite happy and i enjoyed watching them build their nest until late this after noon when we found their nest had fallen to the opposite side of the pergola and had broken. One of them has visited and tried to fix the nest but nothing has changed. They have both returned together and flown away. Sadly we haven’t seen them since. Is there any chance of them coming back and re building their nest?

  34. Trevor says:

    Hi there Emma,

    Willie Wagtails often nest 3 – 5 times in a season which ranges from September through to February so there is every reason to believe they will nest again, probably in a different location so keep watching them.

  35. jackson says:

    hello trevor. every time a take my two dogs for a walk, i always make sure i walk past a house with a little scrub that has two williw wagtails nesting in the bush. at the moment they have 3 little chicks that are just starting to open their eyes. but it seemed like a really long time for the adults to be sitting on the nest. i was wondering how long it takes for the eggs to hatch?

  36. Jo Beckett says:

    Hi there Trevor, it’s Jo from Sydney!, I wrote you towards the end of Oct /nov 2009 regarding our W/W family that we were lucky enough to see the nesting/hatching and the flight of three little fledglings…the family never did come back and nest again unfortunately. I look around the yard all the time for nests and.how disappointed I am to think our feathered friends don’t like us any more. Anyway, I was just checking my emails and there you were so I thought I ‘d drop in to say hello hope you are well and ‘ good luck’ in the Melbourne Cup! Look forward to reading stories on your blog.. someone must have a nest in their garden that I can read about to cheer me up!
    Kind regards Jo

  37. Mark says:

    Hi Trevor
    We have just had he wonderful experience of WW nest one meter off our deck in a above our rabbit run. Two babies hatched. The babies were fed on supply of insects that the adults would get from inside the rabbit hutch. The birds flew off about 15 days after hat hing.
    Do they reuse the nest or can we take it down for children’s show and tell.
    Well done on your website.

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for your kind comments about my site. Stay tuned – much more to come in the near future.

      I love seeing the WWs nests – so delicate and intricate. WWs often nest 2 or 3 times a season, depending on conditions. They may reuse the nest but tend to make a new one, using materials sometimes recycled from the old one.

      Despite that I see no harm in taking down the old nest – but I didn’t tell you that! (Our laws are such that native birds are almost all fully protected and it is an offence to interfere with the nest, eggs or young in most states. I leave it to your conscience!)

  38. Cindy says:

    Hi Trevor. I have a nesting pair of WWs under the back patio. This morning she laid one egg – she was on and off the nest during the day with the male chattering around but as night was falling (and rain) she flew off and didn’t come back. Im writing this at 9.30pm wondering what to do. Should I take the egg out of the nest as surely its dead now or certainly will be by morning. Just thought it would make more room for some more eggs tomorrow and hopefully she may stay on them tomorrow night. I feel so sad – why didn’t she come back? I guess I should just leave it up to nature but a dead egg in the nest could be a nuisance if some babies do eventually hatch. What do you think? Cindy

  39. Marelda kelly says:

    Hi Cindy and Trevor,

    Is it warm under the patio? Where I used to live both ww would be away for ages. I figured they were smart little things and could gauge the temperature. When temp was just right they could have time off! Just a theory. I used to worry about the eggs too. I think over a couple if years there were twelve babies so they did okay. Cheers Marelda

  40. Cindy says:

    Thanks for your comments Marelda. No its not really warm at this time of the year – Im in Perth and last night was wet and woolly. First thing this morning I saw her back on the nest. Surely that egg wouldn’t have survived the night! Have to control my urge to intervene and leave it to nature now. Will check to see if she lays some more eggs today. Also have the worry of honeyeaters as Im sure they wrecked their nest last year before they even had time to lay the eggs. I sound like a “helicopter” mother but its such a competitive world out there for the little birds.

  41. Alisha says:

    Hello there!
    I have a beautiful WWT couple that have just finished building their nest today. How long after they finish are the eggs laid? I have spent the last few days mesmerised watching them make a home under my pergola. Now they don’t even get scared when I open the door, which I love!!! I can’t wait to see some babies in the next couple of weeks! Friends are saying I must have a boring life haha! My husband got a scare when I called him a few days ago saying we will have some babies soon! But thankfully he has been really interested in daily updates!

  42. Cindy says:

    DISASTER HAS STRUCK! Having been anxious over what I presumed was a cold dead egg in my comments last week I was thrilled to find she had laid another two the next day. Joy of joys – they were so attentive to the nest all week – one off, one on. But yesterday morning I noticed she was agitated on the nest, not settling as usual but up and looking in then back sitting again then up again – I knew immediately something was wrong and waited till she flew off then ran out and had a look inside. Only one egg there!! Looked around and found one smashed on the ground. Where was the other one?? I was devastated. What happened? During the day they came back and forth to the nest but they never sat on it for long and by late afternoon they’d completely lost interest. Havent seen or heard them all day today. Im so saddened by this and just cant understand whats happened. It wasn’t a cat of that Im sure so it had to be another bird. Could it be a New Holland Honeyeater as they are nesting around close by – but what happened to the other egg? Anyone got any ideas??

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Cindy – I suspect it could have been a cuckoo. What most people in Australia don’t realise is that our cuckoo species move south in the late winter, early spring. We have 14 different species, none of them make the English “cuckoo” call as in the cuckoo-clock. All of them are parasitic – meaning that they will wait until another species (eg honeyeater, thornbill etc) has made a nest and laid one or more eggs. The female sneaks into the nest while the host female is absent for a minute or two, lays her egg and leaves. Often the colour and markings are remarkably similar to the host bird. The host bird then hatches the cuckoo egg, along with its own eggs. The cuckoo chick is usually the first to hatch, and it then proceeds to dump the host’s eggs out of the nest. It then gets ALL the food. Very cunning. Cuckoo species world wide also behave in this way.

  43. Alisha says:

    Yay! I am positive there are eggs in the nest now! I will be waiting anxiously for th next 2 weeks to see how many babies we have! I know I could easily have a look, but would rather leave them be! Will keep you updated over the coming weeks! Wow I can’t believe how excited I am about birds haha!!

  44. Catherine says:

    Hi there Trevor,

    I have just had some willie wagtails lay eggs in a nest on my washing line. I tried to make best of it however they got quite aggressive and I had to have a neighbour relocate them near by. When I went out this morning, they were still swooping me at the washing line and when I walked to the nest the stopped, the eggs had clearly not been sat on all night and they didn’t know that it was their nest. I have brought the nest inside and have it under a lamp. Just wondering if my efforts ate worth it? And what do I do next?

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Catherine,

      Sorry about the delay in replying.

      Sadly, I feel that the eggs are doomed. Not being sat on all night has probably been fatal to the eggs. Even a lamp may not give the right temperature. If you did happen to incubate the eggs, that is just the beginning of your troubles.

      Once the eggs hatch the young will need constant attention throughout the day. Adult birds feed an insect to the young on average every 2 or 3 minutes ALL DAY. Just keeping up with their demands would be exhausting – even if you could find enough food for them.

      The next best thing is to relocate the nest outside where the adults can find it and so they can reuse the materials for a new nest. Willie Wagtails can have up to 4 broods of young every breeding season (sadly, the attrition rate is very high). So, being early spring there is every likelihood they will nest again.

      Just don’t let them use the clothes line!

  45. Trevor says:

    Message for Dave (if you bother to read this):

    Your comment on this post has been moderated. It was NOT approved because you were suggesting an illegal action. Just because the birds annoy you does not give you the right to harm them – especially not eliminate them. As the owner of this site I reserve the right to withdraw or modify any comments such as yours.

    Everyone else – please keep comments civil. I’d hate to close down comments completely – I can only recall having to act that way on one occasion.

  46. Jo Beckett says:

    Hullo Trevor, Jo Beckett from Sydney. I bombarded you with a day to day progress account of my Willie & Wilma Wagtail family back in October 2009…3 little eggs, all hatched and we got to see Mum and Dad accompany the 3rd of their fledglings on the last flight from the nest…a sight to behold. Alas, they never did come back to our yard to nest again, .I’ve seen a few notifications in my emails lately that there are some newbie WW families on the horizon – how exciting for everyone!. They certainly came to a wonderful site for birdie knowledge and questions answered. I missed our little feathered family and adopted a little red canary….Pheonix sings his song to me every morning. . . . lifes good!
    Blessings Joann Beckett (Jo)

    • Trevor says:

      Thanks for your comments, Jo. Welcome back. Thankfully most people reading this site enjoy having the Willie Wagtails in their lives – let’s ignore those grumpy people who cannot and will not appreciate having wild birds in their garden because they make a noise. Goodness me.

      We have again had the delight of having two sets of baby WWs in our garden. We are currently visiting family in Sydney until Christmas, so I suspect that when we return home in the new year, they will have nested again. Happy days.

      • Trevor says:

        I meant to mention in my comment above, Jo, that you should be patient. Having nested in your garden once there is a good chance they will do so again in the future, though the passing of 4 years is quite a long time. I hope they haven’t found a better place to nest.

        • Jo Beckett says:

          Hi Trevor
          Thanks for your reply. You are quite right about Willy & Wilma finding a better place to nest. Outside our back door on the arm of our shade awning was definitely not the smartest place for their nest- too invasive for them and a tad too close to us humans for their liking, even though we did not use the back door till they ” flew the coop” so to speak. I will be patient in the hope that we can have the pleasure of another pair of nesters again. Meanwhile, I’ll just share and read that delightful experience with others and their W/W families on here. Happy days and a Happy Christmas time to you and everyone else – stay safe!
          Jo Beckett

  47. Wendy says:

    Hi Trevor, just read with interest your blog, we have had our pair of Willy Wagtails nesting under our decking roof for three years now and have watched many of our babies fly off. Can you tell me at what age the birds will mate? This last time we are sure at least one of the birds is new and cannot understand this?
    Do new pairs use another’s nest, could Walter or Wimmy have mated with another, although they do mate for life? It is interesting to hear of families with their Willy Wagtail’s breeding so close to us humans, we even added a little “verandah” to our beam to give the bubs extra room to stand before leaving us.

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Wendy,

      Thanks for visiting and for your comments and questions. I am currently visiting my family (at the insistence of my grandchildren) in Sydney, so I don’t have my reference books with me.

      With many smaller birds they are sexually mature quite quickly. Many will mate within a year of leaving the nest. This is a survival requirement; many of the smaller species rarely live more than a few years (as a general rule).

      New pairs can re-use old nests but this is not common with WWs because the growing babies usually almost destroy the nest before fledging. The remaining nest materials will often be used again.

      Many bird species do mate for life and I think this is true of WWs. If one dies the remaining bird can sometimes mate with another bird.

  48. Kristi says:

    Hi Trevor ,
    We had 3 babies hatch , one disappeared after a week and today we saw the 2 nd one fall out the nest. What do you do in this situation ? We didn’t know if we should put it back in , hope the parents don’t abandon them or do you let Mother Nature take it’s course. The baby couldn’t fly but was skipping and jumping along chasing after on of the parents .

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Kristi,

      It’s difficult in these situations to know exactly what is the right thing to do. Observe the parents for a while – are they still feeding the young one on the ground? In that case, I might e inclined to let it be. The danger of course is that a cat or hawk might get it.

      One the other hand, putting it back in the nest can’t really do any harm. The parents will hear it calling and come to feed it. The nest is a safer option than on the ground.

      Warning: if you pick up the young one expect to be bombarded by the parents! They can be aggressive birds when protecting the young. I’ve even seen them attacking a Wedge-tailed Eagle, Australia’s largest bird of prey. Only a few days ago I saw one literally riding on the back of a raven, pecking hard at its back!

  49. graham says:

    when is winter or rain coming so these m…..l pesky things will go so we can get some sleep

    • Trevor says:

      Goodness me, Graham – they really have turned you into a grump. I hope that they let you sleep in the next few days so you can have a great Christmas. And may the New Year bring you many sleep filled nights and no annoying sounds.

  50. graham says:

    i must live in a grumpy st as i am not the only one that complains about the mongrel things. if you like them so much come and get i will even pay you to take it

  51. Jo Beckett says:

    Wishing you and your family…… Including any Willie Wagtail families at yours…” A Happy New Year” Trevor! Mr Graham, there really is no room for ” trolls” on this site…best be moving on now, good day to you ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Trevor says:

      Thanks Jo. We had a good Christmas with our grandchildren in Sydney before returning early to SA because my wife’s mother passed away a few days before Christmas – it was expected, and a wonderful blessing and relief how it all turned out. She had suffered far too long. Her funeral just before New Year was a celebration of a wonderful woman who loved life – despite many hardships.

      On a sadder note – I deleted Graham’s nasty comment to you. It was totally inappropriate. I had given him ample warning – or so I thought. I disabled comments for a few days until we had returned home and had settled everything. I hope he resists the temptation to continue being grumpy.

  52. Bob says:

    Hi Trevor, I just came across your site about Willy Wag Tails. For 24 years, I have enjoyed the presence of WWs in our neighbourhood in Mildura. Early last year one WW was a constant visitor in our backyard. I put a few meal worms about the garden and he/she became a very common visitor. I named this WW Lightning for the speed and agility it showed. Then I noticed Lightning and it’s mate had a nest in the neighbours tree. About October I noticed a lot of nesting activity and bye and bye three chicks emerged. They left the nest and were spotted around our backyard, then only two and then they must have moved away. Then there were more chicks in January. Unfortunately, something happened to Lightning that is too sad to describe, but two of the nestlings still take refuge and chase bugs in our yard. They make distinct chicka chicka calls and I name them Boofy and Snap. I have an ice cream container bird bath in the back yard and I see them using it in their turn along with blackbirds, wattle birds and magpie larks. They are pure joy to have around. Is there any way of knowing the male from the female that you know of?

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Bob,

      Thanks for your comments. I too love to have the WWs around the house and garden. Ours never seem to nest too far from the house so they are constantly around the place somewhere. When I mow the grass – we have 5 acres – they follow the ride on catching the insects I stir up.

      Unfortunately the attrition rate of small birds and especially fledglings new out of the nest is very high. That is why species like WWs have 3 or sometimes 4 broods in one season, so several might survive to adulthood. The disappearance of them can be attributed to many causes: severe weather, birds of prey (eagles, hawks, owls etc), snakes or lizards (eg goannas), cats, dogs, even humans.

      An icecream container is probably not a good bird bath unless you have a stone or brick in it. It is too deep and they could drown. Try a shallow dish like those pot plants stand in, again with a stone or small brick in the centre for them to perch on. If you can afford it, buy a pedestal terracotta bird bath from a garden centre. Again, place a brick or stone in the middle, and remember to clean it regularly and change the water almost daily, especially in summer. The birds in your area will reward you on a daily basis. My wife and I consider watching ours as a good waste of time – right up there with smelling the roses. (We do that too!) Place the bird bath where you can see it from the house or veranda/patio.

      There is no way of telling a male WW from a female except by having the bird in the hand – or seeing it actually lay an egg!

  53. Maureen says:


    I have found your site most interesting and it has answered all my questions in regards to the Willie Wagtails we have nesting under the umbrella in our swimming pool. We live in Ocean Reef WA – close to the beach – for years we have had WW in our backyard (amongst many other varieties of birds especially honey-eaters) – they take much enjoyment from cleaning our pool hose where different bugs get caught – the WW started building the nest about August and now have babies but we do not know how many as we do not want to disturb them – they built the nest over the under crossbars of the pool umbrella – a very sturdy nest – we have a German Shepherd who they love to swoop but he has been gentle with them – obviously most of their nest has been made from his fur – hopefully we will get to see the babies leave the nest eventually.
    Once again thanks to your site and to your readers who have supplied much info for us.
    Kind regards

  54. Taylor says:

    Hi there,

    We have had a WW nest just outside our backyard door up high in our pergola over the past nearly 3 months. We’ve watched the build the nest, have the babies but now they aren’t seeming to leave. They must be still with the babies because they now sit on the nest and watch the door for when we walk out and swoop us. I was just wondering how long it will be until they leave?

    Thank you

  55. Trevor says:

    Hi Taylor,

    What has probably happened is that one brood of babies has grown and left the nest. This happens amazingly quickly – within two weeks of the first eggs being hatched. Very soon after that the female will lay a second brood. In fact, they can have up to 4 broods in a breeding season – from July to January and all other months if the conditions are right.

  56. Nick says:

    Hey Trevor,
    A couple of willie wagtails have decided to make a nest about 2 and a half metres off the ground, just outside our front gate. It amazes me how they were able to make such a perfect nest in a short time! We have been admiring it for a few weeks now.
    Unfortunately, I walked passed it today and noticed that it was on its side, with the babies still inside, but the parents were no where to be seen.
    This upset me a lot as I didn’t want to disturb the peace in case the parents rejected the babies, yet I couldn’t let them just sit there in case a gust of wind knocked them out of the tree.
    We managed to tape the branch they were on to a sturdier branch to secure the nest, but still no sign of the parents thus far.
    What can we do?

  57. Richard says:

    Hello Trevor,
    We have WW nesting right outside our front door. At first this was a wonderful experience, I took photos of the eggs and we can watch closely with our children from the tinted window at the young hatched WW.
    However no one can use the front door, ok for us since we can come and go via the garage, but no good for visitors or the postman since the WW scare them off. And what’s worse is the WW is now very aggressive to all of the family, my wife, young daughters and I. They will work in pairs to distract us while the other swoops us. This occurs anywhere around the house, even near our backdoor, which is the opposite side of the house from the nest. We are prisoners in our own home! They will also swoop passers by on the far side of the road.

    We can wait until the young leave the nest which I’m sure will be soon since they are relatively big now and I think around 2 weeks from hatching. But we don’t want them to continue to lay eggs, how can we relocate them?


    • Trevor says:

      Hi Richard,
      I am so sorry for not replying earlier. Your question slipped through unanswered at the time, and now it is probably too late to help you.
      Your Willie wagtails seem more aggressive and more protective than most and you are to be congratulated on your patience and understanding of them. As for relocation: I’m not sure that this would be successful as it just creates an empty niche for some other birds to occupy. The only solution I can offer is to talk to your local council or a local wildlife rescue group for advice. Sorry I can’t be of more help.

  58. Stacey says:

    Hi we haven’t been to our weekender for over a month. I found a ww nest on my large candleholder. I’m here for a week and the parents are very skittish of us. It’s be my main door and laundry so very hard not to walk past it, do you think I could put it on the front verandah and they’d follow? Yesterday there were two eggs and today three . Thanks

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Stacey,
      I am terribly sorry that you comments and question slipped through unanswered. So sorry.
      I would be very interested in what you ended up doing , and the outcome if you know it.
      Legally you should not interfere with the nest or contents of Australian native birds, but in this case I assume you are trying to look after the welfare of the birds. If you ended up shifting it I would be doubtful if the adults would follow and continue using it – but they might prove me wrong. If they rejected the move they would likely nest again – probably in the same spot as before – not to annoy you but to show that they are persistent little things and their drive to breed is very strong. Hope it all turned out happily – for the birds and for you.

  59. Kim says:

    Hi , I’ve had the pleasure of watching a willie wagtail nest outside my bedroom window for the last month, 3 eggs hatched and 3 beautiful little birds appeared. I wake up each morning and race to the window to see them. This morning they are gone. Will they return to the tree? I can actually see them flying not to far away?

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Kim,

      By now you have probably realised that the babies, once they fledge (able to fly) go all over the place. Sometimes they hang around the nest and may even roost in it for a few nights, but mostly they are off wherever the wind takes them. Eventually – this has probably happened already – they become independent of the parents. The parents, however, will usually stay nearby. They will probably nest again in this same, or nearby, location, probably in the middle of next year.

  60. John says:

    Hi, I’ve been watching a willie wagtail nest for about a month or so now at work. I do security for a unit complex and my patrol route takes me right past where the parent bird set up a nest in the railing of a carwash bay, (quite a well chosen and safe spot since it’s well separated from anything else and high off the ground, I’m 6’5 tall and it’s well above my head). During my latest shift though, I noticed that the parent was missing (it has always been there all night) the chicks are fairly big now, the two of them being quite snug in the nest. Do you think something might have happened to the parent? If so, will the chicks be old enough to look after themselves?

    • Trevor says:

      Hi John,

      I would say that the missing adult was possibly taken by a bird of prey (owl?) or even a cat. The remaining adult will feed the babies but it sounds like they are nearly ready to fledge (fly) and by now may well be independent of the adults.

  61. Marjorie says:

    We’ve enjoyed watching a pair of willie wagtails build their nest, sit on it for two weeks, then feed their two fast growing babies for 11 days. All this on a railing of our fernery about 5 feet from a window. Alas, when we went to say good morning today, the nest and its occupants have completely disappeared. Also one of the adults. We’re at a loss to understand how this could happen. The remaining willy wagtail is very unhappy, as are we. It’s been an absolute joy sharing their lives…..(when they were building their nest we built them a roof to protect them from the weather!!). They were such wonderful parents and now it’s as though there was never a nest and the rest was a figment of my imagination.

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Marjorie,

      I feel your devastation. What is hard to accept is that you have witnessed life in its wildest state. I think that the Willie Wagtail’s nest and its occupants, including one parent, has been raided by one of the following: a cat, a bird of prey (eagle, hawk, kite, kestrel, owl, frogmouth) or a magpie, crow, raven, currawong and even a snake or lizard. It’s a cruel world out there.

      Sadly, I think your little family of Willie wagtails has allowed another species to feed its young.

      Now the good news: the remaining bird may nest again this season but not necessarily in the same spot. This will only happen if there is another bird nearby to take the dead one’s place. Otherwise – stay tuned for the next breeding season in the middle of next year. Another pair may well move in to this territory and build a new nest nearby.

  62. Barbara says:

    In November we watched a family of wagtails nest (in the grape vine outside our window), hatch, grow and fledge. In December female wagtail laid more eggs and 3 have just hatched. Unfortunately only one parent is caring for them, so is it possible for one parent to successfully rear three?

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Barbara,

      Thanks for your comments. Sorry about the delay in replying – having a computer upgrade and I was offline for a while.

      We always enjoy ‘our’ Willie wagtails and they are a real delight when raising their young. Most WWs nest 2 to 3 times a season, depending on conditions. While a single parent would be very busy feeding a brood in the nest, I think that it is quite possible. (This happens in other species; the male Australian Magpie, for example, does very little of the hatching of the eggs and feeding of the young. Males protect the nest from all-comers – hence the swooping – while the mother does all the raising of the young.)

  63. Andrea says:

    We have a pair, Nelson and Wonka, who have 3 babies probably nearly ready to fly . Today. Nelson has perched in a nearby olive tree looking fluffed up and downcast. Wonka is feeding Nelson and protecting him/her but the wind is blowing and it is getting dark.I think Nelson may have flown into a window earlier. Can a partner bird care for the babies and Nelson too. Would the partner abandon the babies for the partner?

  64. David says:

    Hello WWT folks.

    I am 78 yo and fell in love with the willies as a 5yo in South Perth. I still love them in our yard in Secret Harbour near the west coast.

    I wonder if any one remembers the treatment of Argentine ants 70 odd years ago in the Perth area? The treatment got rid of the ants OK but it also got rid of my favorite bird, the loved willie, along with several other species. I have no definitive evidence of how much damage was inflicted but it took several years for them all to come back or redevelop in the Perth area.

    Great web page !


    • Trevor says:

      Hi David,

      Thanks for visiting and for leaving your comments. I am unfamiliar with Argentine ants in WA – I had to look it up. The website of the WA Department of Agriculture and Food has quite a long article about the ants and how to treat infestations – but nothing about the impact on birds. I hope some of my readers can help.

  65. Steph says:

    We have a pair of WW nesting in our yard and they have done this for 2 years in a row. Ow however unfortunately one of them flew into our glass fence and our dog killed it. We are very concerned for he other WW and the babies. Will they will be okay on their own and is there anything we can do?


    • Trevor says:

      Hi Steph,

      Sorry about the delay in replying. I am fairly confident that the remaining bird will be able to tend to the young in the nest. Mind you, it will be very busy. There is probably very little you can do to help the babies survive. The death rate in our young Australian birds is very high and only a few survive to be adults. Most birds like Willie Wagtails have 2 to 4 broods per season, ensuring that at least some survive. It is also quite possible that another bird will come in to replace the dead one next spring – or even this season. Here’s hoping that all ends well.

  66. Paula says:

    Hi Trevor,
    I ahve a fery similar story to Steph above.
    We have a gorgeous pair of Willies who nested on our pergola last year and raised 3 chicks. This year they are back and have decided to build a nest on the branch of a tree about 1 metre above my daughter’s sandpit, on the edge of the pergola. For the last few days one of them has looked very large and fluffy and been spending a lot of time on the ground. We presumed this was mum – would that be right? I’ve just come home to find she’s been killed by our cat – so sad! There are 3 eggs in the nest. I’m hoping dad will incubate them and raise them.
    Do you think he’ll return again next year to nest in our backyard? Or will he remember and think it’s not safe?

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Paula,

      I am sorry that it has taken me so long to reply. I have been travelling interstate and looking after my grandchildren. Are you able to give me an update on the nest?

      • Paula says:

        Hi Trevor, no problems, thanks for your reply. I hope you had fun with your grandies. So the little lone willy sat on the nest for another few days and actually looked like he / she had picked up another mate. There was another willy hanging around and they were singing to each other. But, tragically the cat got at the nest again and a second willy was killed and the nest destroyed. I think this it for this year. Hopefully another pair will come into our backyard next year.

  67. Kim says:

    Hi I have a nest off willy wag tails and found one off the parents dead ๐Ÿ™ will the other parent still feed its young in the nest . I think the dead one flew into our fence . And the one that is left keeps calling for its mate very sad !

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Kim,

      I hopeful that the remaining bird will be able to keep up with feeding the young. They are tough little birds.

      • Kim says:

        Hi the other remainder bird I can say is feeding its babies ๐Ÿ™‚ I was so happy . But the first night just before it got dark the bird called and called for the other bird thAt had died . I was crying my hubby called me a sook but it was so sad . The parent bird is feeding them all day but at night time it goes away and comes back in the morning is this normal for them not to sit on the nest at night time ?

  68. Craig Bright says:

    Trevor this is the second time we’ve had willys make a nest in the grape vine, but the parents have gone ??? They were very defensive of their nest, there are still three eggs in the nest ! Should I cover in cotten wool and hope for the best ? And hand feed bugs to them if they hatch ? It’s only been a day that I’ve noticed mum & dad aren’t here !

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Craig,

      I would say that by now it is too late to save the eggs. Only a few minutes without one of the parents on them can mean disaster. Even if you could incubate them in some way, feeding the young would be a full-time job. I would suggest that a bird of prey (hawk, eagle) or a cat has taken the parents. Sadly, this happens very frequently, and sadly. you will have to wait for another pair to move into this territory. That might take some time.

  69. Kristine Burnes says:

    Hi, We’ve got a Willy Wagtail nest under our veranda eves and one of the chicks fell out. It got caught in a spiderweb and I was able to put it into a small bowl without touching it. I’m wondering what, if anything, can we feed it? There are still 2 chicks in the nest and both parents are feeding them. My boys were very upset to see that one had fallen out and would like to help it if possible.
    Thanks Kristine

  70. Catherine Bird says:

    Hi Trevor. This is Catherine from Cornwall England. Found your site searching for some info about whether a single white wagtail can find another mate. We’ve had a pair nesting in our garden for two years & yesterday our cat brought one in dead. Just heartbreaking & its mate is calling out! Today the survivor is pecking on the roof for insects – It’s February very early Spring here. White wagtails arent common here but they had 2 broods last year so perhaps the extended family might return? We’re on the edge of their migratory range here but have had a couple of mild winters. Thanks in advance for any information. Best wishes Catherine

  71. Carol says:

    Could someone please answer me just on dark i walked out side only to find a poor willie wag tail he was stuck to my fly trap he wasnt making a sound i thought he was gone but we unstuck him and set him free and he went to the fence then naighbors garden and he chittered for a while then left i want to bmno what this mean please

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Carol, Thanks for rescuing that Willie Wagtail. It was probably trying to catch some of the flies on your fly trap (they eat mainly insects). The noise it made probably means that it was pleased to be free. Can I suggest that you move the fly trap to where it can’t get at it? If the feathers get stuck, it might not be able to fly and will quickly die.

  72. Illona Hope says:

    We have Willie Wagtails nesting on a post (under cover) on our patio. Since about 1.00pm yesterday afternoon I have not seen the female and do not think that either was on the nest the whole night. This morning the male has been sitting on the nest. I was concerned that the eggs may not hatch now and I still have not seen the female return. It is now 9.30am the next day.

  73. Illona Hope says:

    Our male Willie left the nest for the whole night and returned again this morning. He does sit the whole day and only leaves the nest in short bursts. I still have not seen the female. Surely the eggs are no longer viable after 2 nights being left empty? Why do you think the male comes back each morning? I know I cannot interfere but I am really concerned for them

    • Trevor says:

      Hi again Illona, has there been any progress? I am not sure why the male returned, by sometimes a clutch of eggs will be hatched and raised by just one adult. The female was possibly taken by a bird of prey (eagle, owl).

  74. JennY says:

    A couple of willie wagtails have made nest in our backyard, quite close to our kitchen window and the door. However, for the past few days to a week they have not come back. Should I leave the eggs they have left in the nest and hope another willie wagtail will use the nest? Or should I just leave everything as it is?

  75. Trevor says:

    Hi Jenny, It is best just to leave the nest. Something must have happened to the birds (eg taken by a hawk or owl). If they are still alive, they may return and reuse the nest, or they may destroy it and use the material in it to make a new nest in a different location. Or another pair may come in and use the nesting materials for their own nest.

  76. Sandra Howard says:

    Hi Trevor. I have WWs making a nest under my patio at the moment. 6 steps away there is a swallows nest in the corner. 3 days ago babies were being fed in the swallows nest and now there are no babies. Do Willy Wagtails kill the young of other species in such close approximation. The swallow chicks have disappeared or I’ve found dead for the last 3 years. Sandra Perth

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Sandra,
      Although the Willie wagtails strongly defend their nest and young, I doubt if they would attack the young of the swallows. It is quite possible that the culprit is a magpie, currawong, butcherbird, raven or even a bird of prey, such as a hawk, owl and so on. Even snakes and lizards can take the young in nests if they can get to it.

  77. Jess says:

    Hi Trevor,

    I have been searching for some information on these gorgeous birds and their nesting behaviour, and haven’t found the answer among the comments here (or I missed it!).

    We have a pair nesting outside my bedroom window (lucky me!). They started to build about a week ago, and they occasionally come to the nest but they are also just hanging around being territorial the rest of the time. I just chased the neighbour’s cat away but I think the male was doing a good job of that himself.

    How long does it take to build a nest and then to lay eggs? Should I assume they have already laid eggs? I can’t check due to the location of the nest and not wanting to scare them off. Once they’ve laid eggs, how long do they need to sit on them each day?

    Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

  78. Trevor says:

    Hi Jess,
    Willie Wagtails usually only take a few days to make their nest – probably up to a week. The eggs will be laid in the following two to four days, depending on the clutch size. Incubation takes about 14 days and they will fledge (leave the nest and fly) after about another 14 days. After a week or two, the young will feed independently.
    You can find more information here:



    • Jess says:

      Hi Trevor,

      Thank you – I was mostly wondering whether they sit on the eggs most of the day or only for a few hours at a time, information I could not find elsewhere!

      Sadly my question was answered today as to whether they had eggs. They had laid 1 egg, but the nest slid off and was hanging on the side of the beam. The egg smashed. We’ve attached the nest securely back on the beam now but I don’t know if they’ll come back or whether they will just leave, or perhaps dissemble it and take the pieces elsewhere.

      I thought they were exceptionally loud this morning but I didn’t get out of bed to look until later…

      Thanks again!

  79. Jan Frank says:

    Hello Trevor

    Swallows are trying to get to their nest to feed their (hungry/cheaping)
    young and are being thwarted by aggressive Willy Wagtails.
    The WW’s nest is just 2 metres away, so may have some bearing on this!

    Feel quite helpless, as aware you cannot interfere!
    Thanks, in anticipatio

  80. Angela Carbery says:

    Been searching through these many comments trying to find an answer to my problem. We have a nest with baby ww birds in it very close to our backdoor. So close that we can’t go outside at the moment without being attacked! And the poor dog is copping it! Noticed today that they were being very aggressive, and saw that a baby had fallen onto the ground. Feel bad for the little thing, but the mum and dad willywagtails won’t let me near it to help it. Feeling helpless!

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Angela,
      What a dilemma. Is there some way of protecting yourself while you rescue the little chick – say draping a raincoat over your head? Try to protect yourself in some way and then pick up the chick in a tissue and place it back in the nest if you can. The tissue will minimise the smell of your hand on the chick – otherwise, the adults may reject it. Hope you can find a way to help it.

  81. Julia says:

    Hi Trevor
    We have had WW build their nest in our wisteria outside our bedroom window the last couple of years. We watch them build their nest methodically, plucking fur from our dogs tail, which he doesnt mind. Last year 3 chicks hatched and left the nest. This year we have watched four chicks hatch. I love to open my curtains every morning to check on them. I was devasted this morning to find the nest empty and the four babies dead on our front lawn, they were probably only a few days from leaving the nest. I shed a tear or two. We have crows and magpies around, do you know why they would kill the babies at such a late stage?
    Thanks, Julia

  82. Kylie says:

    Hi Trevor, Firstly this is such a great site to read up on our little friends… so thank you. I have been looking through these posts as we have many WW on our new place with lots of other bird life around too so it’s interesting to watch all the goings on!

    However we have had a couple of WW nesting and now onto their second lot here under the ‘tin’ patio, with one falling out early so popped the little thing back in twice.. with success finally! Yet I noticed sadly just yesterday there was a WW under the back stairs I’m presuming it was my cat, feeling terrible as I’ve been watching the cat from my desk everyday and she’s only allowed out when I’m home due to birds, snakes and ticks etc how this happened. I don’t know but it’s pretty awful, the WW that’s left seems to be providing for the babies and singing out from time to time. Interestingly they would always take it in turn to sit. We’ve all grown so fond of these little guys and had been placing the fan on a stool to cool them down recently on these 40deg days. So what I’d really like to know Trevor is Firstly, Do they find other mates if one dies, and secondly, can they withstand such high temperatures (they sit with their wings outstretched over the babies), warmly Kylie!

  83. Emily says:

    We have a willy wag tail nest in our back yard, they have built it on the rope of our hammock. The chicks hatched last week, but the nest has slipped and one chick fell out and died.
    The parents were feeding the remaining chick all day yesterday, but I noticed they had stopped sitting on the nest (has been sitting next to it) last night, possibly because it is on an angle now?
    Today, I havenโ€™t seen the parents at all! The chick is still alive, but I am worried they have abondonded it. Should we try hand feeding? Or do the parents sometimes go awol when the chicks are bigger? I reckon it is only 7-8 days old.

  84. Wendy Kraft says:

    Hi Trevor. A pair of WW have laid 3 eggs under our patio some 3 weeks ago. They continue to sit on the eggs but I think they are not going hatch as too much time has passed. It has been very hot in Perth over the last 2 weeks. Should we remove the eggs or just leave it for them to sort out. Many thanks. Wendy

  85. Wendy Kraft says:

    Hi Trevor. Many thanks for getting back to me so quickly. I will leave them to deal with it. Try to stay cool during the heatwave. Thanks again. Wendy.

  86. Samantha Thomas says:


    The willy wagtails have built there new nest 1metre from our back door. This is also our outdoor area where we sit as we are outdoor people. They have two babies in there nest. They have been landing on my side and back when l am sitted but when l look they fly to there nest. And they also fly under the table at night and touch me with there feathers on my feet and legs. They normally nest in the big shed(last year and a half)

  87. Samantha Thomas says:

    Hi l haven’t had a reply

  88. Heather Johnstone says:

    Hello Trevor, our little female W/W was killed by a cat defending her last chick, unfortunately the last chick which dad was feeding must have fallen out of the nest & was eaten by โ€œsomethingโ€. The male remains in our garden but continues to call.
    Is he still calling his mate? It has been about 3 weeks now since the little female was killed.
    I feel so sorry for him.


    Hi Trevor,
    Our WW built a nest on the frame of our washing line whilst we were away so it was a pleasant surprise to see the nest when we returned but they have built it next to our rear garage door where we get access to the back garden and they have become accustomed to us opening the door on them. We think they have been sitting on the three eggs for 3 to 4 weeks without any result. we have had some hot days here in Perth of late so do you think the eggs might be ” cooked ” and they will not hatch out.
    Regards Terry

  90. Mark A. Bruhwiller says:

    Hi. A few times I’ve had a flock of WWTs dancing around me while in my yard. I just stand there with my hands out to let them know I’m not aggressive and I feel elated for some reason. They come in so close I can feel the wings/tails touch my hair. After 10 minutes I leave them to it.
    I’m not sure as to their intent though, but I don’t feel threatened at all.
    Your thoughts?

  91. Shelley Lawson says:

    Hi We have a nest in our outdoor lights in our patio area. It has been so exciting watch the 2 Willie Wagtails (Jack and Jill) make their nest, lay the eggs and see the babies hatch. After 7 days we found one of the babies out of the nest, quite a distance from the nest, leaving the 2. While this has been amazing watching – in the last 14 days the MESS that Jack and Jill have made in our entire backyard (2 patio areas, pool area, furniture – you name it) with bird poo EVERYWHERE….. We are now at our wits end – as we cant even sit outside there is that much bird poo! – what do we do? The chicks are about 8 days old now – once they leave the nest – can we move it? Jill looks pretty fat again and worried she will be using the nest again for her next lot of eggs….. We are having to pressure clean every week! but I love having them around – just not the poo!

  92. Barry booth says:

    We have aww nest in our tipuana tree in the front yard and the female is in the nest but i have not seen a male. If something has happened to him how will the female both feed and tend the eggs

  93. Chris Newall says:

    Last year we had a pair of WW’s nest in a tree below a balcony on our second floor. Following the successful incubation and hatching of the three eggs laid the chicks grew quickly and before we knew it were gone. The birds showed no sign of interest in the nest once the fledglings left.
    About a month ago they started sitting in the nest intermittently.
    Several days ago we noticed three eggs in the nest.
    Last year the parents would only leave the nest unguarded very briefly, however yesterday and today we have not seen the parents on the nest at all. Do you think that the parents have abandoned the nest? How long can the eggs be left unattended? Any related information would be gratefully received.
    Chris Newall

  94. Sharon says:

    Hi Trevor
    Our neighbour has a resident WW (Wilhemina) who recognises him even when visiting us across the street. Willy and partner have built their nest on my washing line in all the weather, my concern is the heat wave we are currently experiencing and is expected to go on for days where she will be sat on her nest in direct heat 42 for at least a few days. Will she survive this or perhaps abandon the nest if too hot.

  95. Maureen Wood says:

    We have 3 Willy wagtail eggs in the nest but we know they are not alive due to heat. Mum & Dad are still around!
    What do we do?
    Thank you Trevor

  96. Sandi Adamson says:

    Hi Trevor, there is a willy wagtail with a broken wing near where I feed horses. Obviously cant fly but runs around feeding himself. I put water down low for him and I notice he can go up into one of the small shrubby trees by jumping branch to branch so havent wanted to intervene except the water and watching him. Worried he doesnt look quite as chubby as his mates. How do you think he’ll go in the long term? Btw, I only say he as I dont know what sex the little darling is. Makes me sad that he cant fly with his friends.

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Sandi
      It is hard to tell the difference between male and female Willie Wagtails. Sadly, there is probably little you can do about it unless you can catch it – which may stress it out even more. If you could catch it, take it to your local vet or contact your nearest wildlife carer for advice.

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