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Grey Fantail - BirdForum Opus

Adult subspecies R. a. bulgeri
Photo © by Joseph Morlan
Kuto Bay, Isle of Pines, New Caledonia, 23 September 2019
Adult subspecies R. a. alisteri
Photo © by peterday
Cox Scrub Conservation Park, South Australia, December 2020

Alternative name: Gray Fantail

Rhipidura albiscapa


14–17 cm (5½-6¾)

  • Sooty-gray upperparts
  • Black breast band
  • White throat
  • Short narrow white supercilium and ear-covert streak
  • Pale tail fringes
  • Buff underparts

Juvenile is duller with buffy wash.

Adult nominate subspecies
Photo © by julien
Raymond Island, Victoria, Australia, 24 July 2006


Australia, Tasmania, New Caledonia, Norfolk Island, Solomon Islands.


Sometimes considered conspecific with New Zealand Fantail and/or the Mangrove Fantail. The three form a superspecies.


There are 8 subspecies[1]:

  • R. a. bulgeri:
  • R. a. brenchleyi:
  • R. a. keasti:
  • North-eastern Queensland (Cooktown to Clarke Range)
  • R. a. pelzelni:
  • Norfolk Island
  • R. a. alisteri:
  • R. a. albiscapa:
  • Tasmania, King and Flinders Islands (Bass Strait); winters to north
  • R. a. preissi:
  • R. a. albicauda:


Occasionally visits densely-planted urban gardens, particularly during the winter migration. Often makes use of eucalypt trees.



Includes insects, usually flying ones; particularly beetles, flies, bees, wasps, and ants.


They build a compact, cup-shaped nest, usually situated in the fork of a tree. It is constructed out of moss, bark and fibre, and often completed with spider's web. They usually lay three or four cream eggs spotted grey and brown.


Song is a simple ascending series of pure notes notes ending with a slight flourish. Both sexes sing, female less than male; may sing on nest. Call consists of sharp, metallic nasal notes, often repeated as a chattering.


Migratory, nomadic or sedentary in different parts of range.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Avibase
  3. Boles, W. (2019). Grey Fantail (Rhipidura albiscapa). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/59145 on 7 December 2019).
  4. Dutson, G. (2011) Birds of Melanesia, Christopher Helm, London.

Recommended Citation

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.1