Monday, December 04, 2017

There's a Jitti-jitti in My Garden

Jitti-jitti - sometimes djiti-djiti or chitty-chitty - is the Noongar name for the Australian willy wagtail - the Noongars being the local indigenous people of south western Australia. I think it's a particularly appropriate name, too, given the way these endearing little birds chatter. Their common name of willy wagtails is because they spend a lot of of their time shaking their rumps with their tails fanned up, and as you might have guessed if you know anything about birds in Australia, they are related to the Australian fantails. They are cheeky and I've yet to find anything they are intimidated by. They take no nonsense from anyone or anything and will drive off much bigger birds without any sign of nerves. Around here they regularly take to the Australian ravens and kookaburras, both of which are much larger and can be aggressive.

For a long time willy wagtail numbers had plummeted but recently they have recovered and now they can often be seen and heard. The one who's chosen our garden as part of his hunting grounds - they catch flies, small moths and mosquitoes (the last in particular makes them very welcome as far as I'm concerned) - arrived a couple of weeks ago. He's very bold, sitting on the fence chittering at me while he waits for something suitable to eat to appear. Very handsome he looks, too, in his black and white tuxedo with his tail fanned up before he swoops and grabs whatever morsel he's seen in mid-air. He isn't the least bit bothered by my working in the garden and will fly down to grab a snack no more than a hands breadth away from me.

in local Aboriginal legend they are regarded as gossips but they figure in other stories in different parts of the country. In some places they are considered birds of ill omen though I have no idea why such a charming, little creature should have that reputation. To me they are very special little birds and I hope their resurgence continues.

If you're interested you can read more about them here. Oh and I tried to find a photo but turns out there aren't too many in the public domain and those that are were somewhat underwhelming.

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