The Motacillidae family, to which the forest wagtail belongs, is known for their aggressive territorial flight displays and, especially, for their impressive courtship song flights. During courtship, the forest wagtail will fly into the air from the ground or a perch, usually to a height of around 8 to 12 metres, before accompanying the descent with a courtship song composed of multiple, high-pitched calls (5), such as a metallic sounding ‘pink’ or ‘pink-pink’ (2). The forest wagtail is strongly territorial and both sexes patrol and defend a territory during the breeding season (5), which runs between April and June (2).
The nest is a compact cup of twigs, leaves, fine grass and rootlets, held together with moss and cobwebs and lined with hair, wool, fur and moss (2) (3). It is built mainly by the female and is positioned on a horizontal branch, close to the trunk of a large tree, typically four to five metres above the ground (5). The clutch of four or five eggs is incubated solely by the female, during which time the male will bring food back to the nest. After the chicks have hatched, both sexes take turns in provisioning food for the young (2) (5).
The forest wagtail feeds on small invertebrates, including ants, beetles, grasshoppers, spiders, snails and worms, for which it forages mostly on the ground, picking at prey items as it walks or runs through vegetation on the forest floor. The forest wagtail will also search for prey in the trees, and will occasionally fly-catch from an elevated perch (2) (3) (5).