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Grey Fantail, Rhipidura fuliginosa

Grey Fantail Grey Fantail
(Photograph by Peter Tonelli)


The Grey Fantail is most easily recognised by its behaviour - an impressive performance of aerial twists and turns with its long tail fanned, wings drooping and often erratically calling throughout. This behaviour earned it the old nickname, "Cranky Fan".

It is dark grey above, and creamy buff on the belly, breast and throat. It has a dark breast band and white eyebrow. The tail edges are white. Both sexes are similar in appearance.


The Grey Fantail is widespread across Australia. Its preferred habitat includes sclerophyll forest, tea tree gullies and coastal scrub.


The Grey Fantail feeds on flying insects, which it catches by chasing them from the edge of foliage at all levels in the canopy.


The Grey Fantail builds a small, neat nest in a thin tree-fork. It is made of fine grass bound together with large amounts of spider web. Both parents share nest-building, incubation of the eggs and feeding of the young.

Distribution Map courtesy Natural Values Atlas, data from theLIST
© 2010 State of Tasmania


The call is a single or double "dick". This can be repeated to develop into an ascending song. It also has an erratic fiddle-like call.


The Grey Fantail is found throughout mainland Australia. In Tasmania, it is common only during the summer months, as it migrates from the mainland. Some birds overwinter in Tasmania.