Right from the boat in a loop of the Kwatu River (one of the tributaries of the mighty Fly River), we discover an open-topped bowl of the Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys) which is also written Willie-wagtail. I have to photograph the nest with the 3 nestlings. We see how an adult Willie Wagtail has brought a dragonfly to its brood. Early in the nestling period, the chicks are unable to eat such large prey, but they are now fairly well developed and almost ready to leave the nest.
The nests of Fantails of the family Rhipiduridae in general are smooth, bowl-shaped structures. Both sexes contribute to the nest- building process, which takes 8-15 days. The first stage involves twisting spider’s webs around the chosen branch or fork to create a platform. The second involves building up the outer walls with rootlets, bark strips and plant fibers. During the final stage the whole structure is plastered with spiders’ webs, which are gathered using the head or body and then wiped over the cup to bind the materials together. The nest of the Willie Wagtail is comparatively robust and therefore usually built on top of a broad branch or other level surface.
Because incubation begins with the last egg, hatching is synchronous in Fantails, and as a result it is usual for all members of a brood to fly within a period of a few hours. Observations of this Continue reading Willie Wagtail at a nest