Cape Wagtail – a friendly little bird

Cape Wagtail

The Cape Wagtail is one bird that is familiar to most South Africans. It gets called a number of different names including Willie Wagtail and Kwikkie. They are cheerful birds and can often be seen patrolling lawns looking for insects. I wonder how many steps they do in a day as they don’t seem to stop in any one place for long. And, of course, they regularly bob their tails up and down.

How do I attract them to my garden?

They are often seen in pairs that keep in contact with each other with a variety of pleasant whistles. Although they feed mainly on insects that they find on your lawn they will learn to visit a food table if you put out meal worms, suet or mince. Sometimes a Wagtail will hover over your swimming pool and catch an insect floating on the surface.

I have noticed that they are quite composed in the presence of cats who seem to enjoy stalking them. When the cat rushes in to try and catch it the Wagtail flies up a metre or two and hovers in an upright position with wings and tail spread wide. They will then land a short distance away and carry on their business of catching insects.

When does the Cape Wagtail breed?

Cape Wagtails breed all year round, but the peak breeding season is summer. They make their nest in any spot that offers them a bit of cover. Their natural choice of nesting site is normally amongst dense vegetation but they will also make use of holes in walls, under the eaves of a house, in a rockery or even on a bit of unused equipment such as a trailer. Up to 7 eggs may be laid but the normal clutch size is 3. The parents take turns at sitting on the nest as well as feeding the hungry chicks.

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