What do willy wagtails eat?

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antic's picture
What do willy wagtails eat?

A willy wagtails or two will often come visit when I'm watering the garden, to catch moths that fly out of plants when I spray them. It's a great symbiosis; we get rid of moths, and the willies get an easy dinner.

However, the one that's visiting now finds it very difficult to catch moths. They fly nearby and he'll try to catch them, but fail even if it's right in front of him. He doesn't seem to notice ones that are more than a few feet away, whereas previous willies would shoot across the yard to grab them.

Maybe his eyesight isn't so good. Once I managed to catch a moth, flicked it at him, at he munched it down. So I'm wondering now how I can help him get his evening mothy snacks, since he obviously finds it unusually difficult.

For instance, where could I buy a butterfly net, to catch moths for him? What other things do they eat that I could provide?

timrp's picture

Maybe its a Juvenile practicing to catch food?

Woko's picture

Apart from damaged eyes the only other reason I can think of for a Willie Wagtail having moth catching problems is damage to its nervous system perhaps caused by pesticide use. This might result in lack of eye-beak coordination or poor reflexes.

Rather than getting rid of moths I wonder if you need to encourage them, antic, so that the Willie Wagtails will have plenty of tucker. A little research might reveal which moth species are local to your area & what sort of habitat you need to provide for them although it would seem that there's already a good moth population in your garden. Nevertheless, planting indigenous plants will eventually ensure that there's a diverse range of natural food for not only Willie Wagtails but a variety of other bird species too.

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