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Diet of breeding willie wagtails Rhipidura leucophrys in suburban Western Australia

Adriano, S. and Calver, M.C. (1995) Diet of breeding willie wagtails Rhipidura leucophrys in suburban Western Australia. Emu, 95 (2). pp. 138-141.

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The insectivorous Willie Wagtail Rhipidura leucophrys is common throughout Australia, except in very wet forests, and also occurs in New Guinea and neighbouring islands (Blakers et al. 1984). It is often abundant in open grassland habitats with a sparse tree layer (Cameron 1985), and so it is a well-known sight in urban parkland, suburban gardens and agricultural areas. Barker & Vestjens (1991) summarised the literature on Willie Wagtail diets available from stomach samples, noting that arthropods from 29 families representing nine orders were included, and that there was a single report of seeds being taken. In an Australian woodland population Cameron (1985) estimated the mean size of prey taken as 7-8 mm, although some very small insects and some over 20 mm long were eaten. Dyrcz & Flinks (1995) reported that in New Guinea c. 95% prey taken were less than 10 mm long, although some prey over 30 mm long were taken. Overall, most dietary information comes from birds in woodland or agricultural areas and very little is known of the diets of Willie Wagtails living in suburbia, although this might explain their success in an altered environment. This study presents dietary data collected from a suburban breeding pair and compares the results to those known for other populations.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Copyright: (c) Birds Australia
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