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21

Grey Fantail

(Rhipidura albiscapa [fuliginosa])
Alternate name(s): "White-shafted Fantail", "White-shafted Flycatcher", "Snapper", "Mad Fan", "Cranky Fan", "Devil-bird", "Land Wagtail"
Aboriginal name(s): Race "albicauda": "koodjinok", "yadoort", "kedjat" (WA)

Size: 14-17 cm
Weight: 9 g (average)

Similar species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Grey Fantail at Wikipedia .

Click here for classification information

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Race "albiscapa"

ADULT

Near-dorsal view of a Grey Fantail (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Bruny Island, TAS, March 2016]

Race "alisteri"

South QLD/NSW/VIC

ADULT

Frontal view of a Grey Fantail (characteristically) fanning its tail (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Ensay South, East Gippsland, VIC, December 2013]

Frontal view of a Grey Fantail
[Near Bugilbone, NSW, November 2016]

Near-frontal view of a Grey Fantail
[Dunn's Swamp, Wollemi NP, NSW, October 2016]

Near-frontal view of a Grey Fantail; note the buff front and the typical white margin of the outer tail feather
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, March 2006]

Grey Fantail in dense undergrowth of rainforest
[Dorrigo NP, NSW, January 2011]

Lateral view of a Grey Fantail
[September 2010]

Lateral view of a Grey Fantail (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, July 2012]

Ventral view of a Grey Fantail; note the prominent whiskers
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2007]

Grey Fantail earning its name by prominently fanning its tail
[Girraween NP, QLD, January 2017]

Grey Fantail "without a head" (seen preening)
[Near Kenebri, NSW, January 2016]

Grey Fantail on the point of take-off
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, December 2014]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Frontal view of an immature Grey Fantail
[Dorrigo NP, NSW, January 2011]

Frontal view of an immature Grey Fantail, different posture (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Gold Coast, QLD, December 2013]

Lateral view of an immature Grey Fantail with its tail fanned (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Gold Coast, QLD, December 2013]

Immature Grey Fantail preening
[Wingham Brush NR, NSW, January 2011]

This immature Grey Fantail still has remnant downy chick feathers on its rump and short, still growing wing feathers
[Mt. Kaputar NP, NSW, February 2017]

Three fledgling Grey Fantails waiting to be fed (photo courtesy of C. Kellenberg)
[Guy Fawkes River NP, NSW, February 2009]

Here the fight for the best place is starting (photo courtesy of C. Kellenberg)
[Guy Fawkes River NP, NSW, February 2009]

This time the Grey Fantail chick in the middle gets the insect (photo courtesy of C. Kellenberg)
[Guy Fawkes River NP, NSW, February 2009]

Here another pair of fledgling Grey Fantails; a third sibling was seen in this case too
[Bullawa Creek SCA, NSW, October 2010]

Might as well use the time until the next juicy insect is delivered...
[Bullawa Creek SCA, NSW, October 2010]

North QLD

ADULT

Near-lateral view of a Grey Fantail (photo courtesy of L. Tonnochy)
[Near Townsville, QLD, May 2012]

Lateral view of a Grey Fantail (photo courtesy of L. Tonnochy)
[Near Townsville, QLD, May 2012]

Lateral view of a Grey Fantail (photo courtesy of L. Tonnochy)
[Near Townsville, QLD, May 2012]

Race "keasti"

Near-frontal view of a Grey Fantail (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Lake Morris, near Cairns, QLD, July 2013]

Lateral view of a Grey Fantail (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Lake Morris, near Cairns, QLD, July 2013]

Race "preissi"

ADULT

Near-lateral view of a Grey Fantail (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Loch McNess, Yanchep NP, near Perth, WA, January 2015]

Lateral view of a Grey Fantail (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Loch McNess, Yanchep NP, near Perth, WA, January 2015]

Grey Fantail just after take-off (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Loch McNess, Yanchep NP, near Perth, WA, January 2015]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Jul - Jan Eggs: 2 - 3 Incubation period: 14 - 15 days Fledging age: 16 - 18 days

The length of the breeding season depends on geographic latitude and weather conditions. It can possibly run from May to March.

Nest building: Female & male Incubation: Female & male Dependent care: Female & male

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Bowl with tail Material: Soft inner bark, spider webs Height above ground: 1 - 7 m

Recently hatched chick in a Grey Fantail nest (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Ensay South, East Gippsland, VIC, January 2017]

Grey Fantail on its nest, with the usual long, hanging tendrils (photo courtesy of M. Windeyer)
[Dandry Gorge AA, NSW, December 2015]

Grey Fantail at its nest, which is lacking the usual long, hanging tendrils (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Ensay South, East Gippsland, VIC, December 2013]

Grey Fantail nest, which again is lacking the usual long, hanging tendrils; this nest is still under construction (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Ensay South, East Gippsland, VIC, November 2015]

One of the Grey Fantails sitting on its nest (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Ensay South, East Gippsland, VIC, November 2015]

Here both owners of the Grey Fantail nest are visible; one is just delivering new material (lining or cobwebs for binding) (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Ensay South, East Gippsland, VIC, November 2015]

Grey Fantail nest in a garage (photo courtesy of E. Bancroft)
[Bingara, NSW, November 2012]

Eggs

"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 16 x 13 mm Colour: Creamy, with mid-brown speckles Shape: Tapered oval

Grey Fantail nest with two eggs in it (photo courtesy of E. Bancroft)
[Bingara, NSW, December 2012]

Grey Fantail sitting on its nest incubating the eggs (photo courtesy of E. Bancroft)
[Bingara, NSW, December 2012]

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Territorial Mobility: Dispersive/migratory Elementary unit: Solitary/pair

If any bird deserves the description as being hyperactive, this is the one. They hardly sit still long enough for a photo exposure. They live in dense young cypress pine growth in the bush; so far we have not seen a Grey Fantail out in open farmland.

It appears that food competition between Rufous Fantails and Grey Fantails is insignificant, given that they have been found nesting right next to each other contemporaneously (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[DFA Road, Ensay North, East Gippsland, VIC, December 2016]

Food, Diet

Like all other members of the Rhipidura family known to us, Grey Fantails are insect hunters.

This lateral view of the head of a Grey Fantail indicates that it has got its whiskers either wet or sticky; since the photo was taken on a dry day, the fluid cannot be dew
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2012]

Call(s)/Song

For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

greyfan_20140519_2.mp3 alisteri
(NW NSW)
Contact call © MD
greyfan_20141023.mp3 alisteri
(NW NSW)
Modified contact call? © MD
greyfan_20140110.mp3 alisteri
(NW NSW)
Warning call © MD
greyfan_20140115.mp3 alisteri
(NW NSW)
Curious (investigating) © MD
greyfan_20140911.mp3 alisteri
(NW NSW)
Various © MD
greyfan_art_20131231.mp3 alisteri
(SE QLD)
Various © ART
greyfan_20140519.mp3 alisteri
(NW NSW)
? © MD
greyfan_20160116.mp3 alisteri
(NW NSW)
? © MD

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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