Family Fantails (Rhipiduridae)

Least Concern

Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys)


French: Rhipidure hochequeue German: Gartenfächerschwanz Spanish: Abanico lavandera

Turdus leucophrys


, 1801,

Sydney, Australia


Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • R. l. melaleuca (Quoy & Gaimard, 1830) – Moluccas, West Papuan Is, New Guinea and islands (including Goodenough, Fergusson and Normanby, in D’Entrecasteaux Archipelago), Aru Is, Bismarck Archipelago (including Admiralty Is), Buka I, Bougainville I and Solomon Is.
  • R. l. picata Gould, 1848 – N quarter of Australia from Kimberley (in Western Australia) and N half of Northern Territory E to N Queensland.
  • R. l. leucophrys (Latham, 1801) – S three-quarters of mainland Australia, including Kangaroo I.
  • Descriptive notes

    19–21 cm; 17–25 g. Has white supercilium; rest of head to upper chest, and upperparts and tail black, malar area, chin and throat with varying amount of white on... read more


    Song, by both sexes, from perch, very occasionally from ground or in flight, loud and far-carrying... read more


    Almost any habitat, apart from closed forest such as rainforest or densest eucalypt (Eucalyptus... read more

    Food and feeding

    Arthropods, especially insects and larvae; occasionally oligochaetes, small fish, lizards, grass seeds. Beetles (Coleoptera) and flies (... read more


    Usually mid-Aug to late Jan (most records Oct–Dec) in Australia, but may breed in any month if conditions permit; most months (mainly... read more


    Resident throughout range. Some small-scale seasonal movements, e.g. post-breeding descent from... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common to very common in most of range, except in densely wooded habitats. Torres Strait population confined to three small islands,... read more

    Recommended citation

    Boles, W. (2019). Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 16 November 2019).