A former Wimmera resident has proven an old folk tale to be true after years of extensive research.
The willie wagtail, a native Australian bird found right across the Wimmera, is known to sing both day and night.
Anecdotes have also suggested that it sings loudest during a full moon, but these stories were always unproven - until now.
Natimuk's Ashton Dickerson utilised four sites, including two at Mitre and McKenzie Creek, to record the wagtail's singing habits.
Miss Dickerson recorded more than 500 hours of the wagtails singing, and then used state-of-the-art technology to compare that data with the brightness of the moon.
Her research showed that wagtails do sing more during full moon nights.
"It is pretty exciting," Miss Dickerson said.
"A lot of research of nocturnal birds has come from the northern hemisphere, whereas this is the first study looking at this type of behaviour in Australia.
"I have a general fascination with birds and their behaviour, but I think what was really cool about this is that this folk story existed, but it was never proven.
"It was just anecdotal, so I set out to see if it was true."
Her findings were published in 'Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology'.
The Melbourne University PHD student said her passion for birds came from her time growing up in the Wimmera.
"I remember growing up at my grandparents' property at Natimuk, where they had a lot of blue wrens, and that's where my early interest in birds started from," she said.
"I moved to Melbourne to study zoology and from there I got more and more interested.
"When I do come back to Horsham and to Natimuk, being around birds so much is one of the best parts."
Miss Dickerson said her research into the behaviours of the wagtail would continue.
She said while there were theories, there was no concrete answer as to why the bird sings at night, and why it changed with the cycle of the moon.
Miss Dickerson suggested it was likely for breeding purposes, defending its territory, or a combination of both.
She said she was also interested in researching the impact of the urban environment on the native birds.
"Now that we've found this relationship with the moon, it's led me to wonder about artificial lights, and how that effects it," she said.
"That is one thing I've developed an interest in - having grown up in the country and moved to the city, it's made me more curious about how the city effects wildlife."
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