Australian Bush Birds
Grey Fantail  -  Rhipidura fuliginosa
Grey Fantail
Grey Fantail actively searching in a dead tree beside the Mitta Mitta River north of Omeo, Victoria. This is a particularly active little bird and rarely stays still for longer than a minute.
map map The Grey Fantail - Rhipidura fuliginosa - is an active inhabitant of the undergrowth and lower levels of tree foliage, rarely ceases twisting and turning in the search for insects; the long tail swings from side to side and is often spread. Sometimes chases insects above the vegetation. Reaches 14 to 17 centimetres long.

Five variants have been described distributed around Australia except for arid north central Western Australia. Adults of most variants are mainly grey on top with white trims including white eyebrows and lines behind the eye.

Found in most vegetation types from mangroves and rainforests to arid scrub in the interior. Avoids the driest parts of the continent. Some variants are restricted to a single environment; e.g. albicauda is found only in mulga from southern Western Australia into southern Northern Territory.

Male and female adults are similar in colouring; juveniles of all variants are browner than adults.

Grey Fantail juvenile
Grey Fantail; the red-brown breast and underside indicates a juvenile.
Grey Fantail - page 2
There are five recognised races in Australia (out of ten races in total for the species):

  alisteri - east and southeast Australia, Tasmania, Bass Strait. Tasmanian examples are slightly darker in colour; most do not migrate but some fly to the south east mainland in winter. Most southeast mainland birds spread far after nesting going as far as Cape York Peninsula, Arnhem Land and the Kimberleys in winter.

  albicauda - western inland Australia, arid zone, has a mainly white tail.

  keasti - highlands of northeast Queensland, particularly Atherton and the Eungella rainforest, darker in colour than other forms. Sedentary, does not migrate seasonally.

  preissi - southwest Western Australia, has a small bill. Moves consistently north and east in winter, rarely more than about 500 kilometres.

  pelzelni - Norfolk Island.

Breeds from August to January. The nest is a tiny cup 150 mm across of plant fibres smoothly bound with cobweb and lined with fine fibre; placed on a thin horizontal fork in a tree 1 to 6 metres above the ground. Two, sometimes three or four, eggs are laid; dull white to cream, minutely freckled or blotched with brown; long-oval shape, about 16 by 13 mm. Incubated for 13 or 14 days.
Grey Fantail Grey Fantail at Mildura, Vic.
Similar to the Mangrove Grey Fantail (Rhipidura phasiana) and the Northern Fantail (Rhipidura rufiventris), both found in tropical Australia.