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Fantails: Rhipiduridae - Diet

prey bird willie larger

Fantails are primarily insectivores, eating insects and other small invertebrates. Only the larger species, such as the willie wagtail are strong enough to capture and handle larger prey. In the case of larger prey such as moths, they must be hammered on a branch in order to subdue them and make them ready to be eaten. Willie wagtails might capture small lizards and eat them also. Most prey are caught while the bird is airborne. The gray fantail is known to be stunning to watch while flying in pursuit of its prey. They whirl in rapid loops, characterized by sudden changes in direction that sometimes appear to endanger the bird. When the bird moves through the leaves, its tail is cocked. Some observers think this helps the bird to flush out insects. Some fantails also have been known to deliberately divide their environments among species inhabiting the same locality, as they utilize different foraging, hunting for food, methods at differing elevations. Willie wagtails remain within 10 feet (3 meters) of the ground.


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