Willy Wagtail and its family in the nest and indigenous story in a pendant
The Family Affair – Willy Wagtails in a bedroom at the art gallery

Full Description

About Willy Wagtails About Willy Wagtails

Interested buyers – don’t hesitate to ask through this link for a “First in first serve” acquisition of the framed original or 1 of 25 limited edition acrylic enhanced reproductions.

The Willy Wagtail

Willy Wagtails (Willy) are much like an oversized, noisier, black-and-white version of their closely related New Zealand Fantails. Like the fantail, the Willy wags its tail from side to side, flushing out insects for food.

  • Identification

It has a prominent white eyebrow which varies in size and conspicuousness depending on the bird’s emotional state, sex, or status.

Like fantails, it has prominent whiskers that protect the bird’s eyes from flying insects. The whiskers also provide information about potential prey locations.

Because Willie’s spend much of their time feeding on the ground, their legs are longer and stronger than other fantails.

  • Voice

Often heard at night, the song is variously transcribed as a sweet pretty creature or pretty little creature. There’r also rattling and territorial chittering calls.

  • Distribution and habitat

Willy’s are widespread in Australia.

Some parts of the population are migratory whilst others are sedentary but Willy’s are mainly birds of open habitats.

They have successfully adapted to human-altered environments such as gardens, parks, and golf courses.

Their favoured habitats are, water-courses, wetlands, and other areas close to water.

Willie Wagtails were introduced to Hawaii in early 1920, for insect control. Without success, the population died out by late 1930.

  • Behaviour and ecology

Fearless and aggressive, the Willie will take on kookaburras, ravens, magpies, and even birds as large as the wedge-tailed eagle to protect its territory.

Humans, domestic cats and dogs, and even snake-necked tortoises and tiger snakes can also expect to feel the wrath of the agitated willie wagtail.

They use livestock both as mobile perches from which to conduct aerial forays and as plows disturbing food as the cattle or sheep walk along. In winter they may congregate in flocks, but most are seen in pairs or singly.

Willy’s line their cup nests with a fibrous material, spider webs, and occasionally with animal hair such as cat, dog, goat, and alpaca.

  • Food

Willy’s feed almost exclusively on insect invertebrates but have been recorded eating seeds, bread and biscuit crumbs, and goldfish.

They are mainly active and restless, feeders on the ground but will catch insects in flight, from foliage, tree trunks, and branches.

Like New Zealand fantails, the Willy conducts food forays by flitting out and back from a perch. The wagging tail and wing movements flush out the prey.

Aboriginal naming

Despite the linguistic diversity of Australian Aboriginal languages and the lack of continuity across the continent, there is a growing interest in adopting Aboriginal names as the standard English names for bird species. While some exceptions such as kookaburra, budgerigar, brolga, and galah have been embraced, early explorers often compared unfamiliar birds to those from their homeland. As a result, small red-breasted birds in Australia were named Robins despite being unrelated to their European counterparts.

In the late 1970s, an attempt to provide nomenclatural consistency throughout the world was suggested by some members of the ornithological community. One suggestion was to rename Willy Wagtail as Willy Fantail; however, this idea did not gain traction and wagtail remains in use.

With an open-minded approach, we have the opportunity to embrace more authentic names. The Willy Wagtail could be referred to as djidi-djidi (pronounced chitty-chitty), or we could designate true wagtails as bobtails! This positive shift would not only celebrate Indigenous culture but also enhance our understanding and appreciation of these unique bird species.



ORIGINAL FOR SALE   * Bid or tender for the original framed (508mm x 508mm x 50mm) artwork. All offers are considered around $11,000 
Painted with professional oils, on gesso primed long-life linen canvas with gloss dammar protection.
* Originals and Limited Edition reproductions are supplied with Provenance, coded Authentication of Sale Certificate, and maintenance/care information.

The full size 920 x 1220 (same as original) on stretch mounted archival canvas price is $2250 inc GST
A master acrylic artist will digitally recreate the original painting and use hand-painted brushstrokes to replicate the original painting.

Unframed sizes | 960 x short side – $960|  650 x short side – $650
Printed on long-life archival canvas. 8 color giclee printed on fine art archival paper or archival linen canvas and acrylic enhanced. Protected with 2 coats of UV archival spray.
* Stretch mounted reproductions will incur added charges for mounting and freight.

Unframed sizes | 594 x short side – $120 |  420 x short side – $92
* Posters printed on fine art papers and treated with two coats of UV archival protection spray.


Some images from “A family affair” are planned to be exhibited on Women’s Fashions through Vida and multiple product lines at Fine Art America

  • Includes insurance and package/handling fees.
  • The Original and Limited Edition reproductions ship with the Provenance coded Authentication of Sale Certificate and maintenance information.
  • Poster art prints ship in insured tubes.


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