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Grey Fantail

Rhipidura albiscapa

Quick facts

Size: Averages 15 cm long including long tail, only 8-9 g.


Range and lifestyle: Found all over Australia. Most birds migrate north after breeding.


Food: Flying insects.

Breeding: They build a nest which is shaped a bit like a wine glass with the cup above the supporting branch and the stem below it. The 2-3 eggs are incubated for 14 to 15 days by both parents.

  • Hyperactive is the best word to describe this bird as it flashes its fan-shaped tail after landing on twigs and startling small insects. It then chases these insects in the air.

  • The bristle-like feathers surrounding its mouth are helpful in trapping its prey.

  • This is one of the commonest birds in Brisbane during winter, when thousands of migratory individuals are on “holiday” from southern states. 

  • They often travel along with us as we walk through the forest because we stir up insects as we go. Their aerial gymnastics as they chase insects are impressive and they are helpful to us if there are lots of mosquitoes about. 

  • They are rarely still but often return to briefly perch at the same spot.

Text © Richard Noske 2021 CC BY-NC-SA


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