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The fantail or pīwakawaka (Rhipidura fuliginosa) is 16 centimetres long, including its 8-centimetre tail. It weighs 8 grams. Most fantails are brown above and pale underneath. Their fan-like tail, usually held high above the body, is made up of long dark central feathers flanked by white feathers. About 20% of South Island fantails are completely black.
The fantail’s tail contributes to its distinctive flight – twisting and turning in the air as it catches insects in flight. Its call is like a kissing sound.
New Zealand’s fantails belong to three separate subspecies not found in Australia: one on each of the North, South and Chatham islands.
Fantails mainly eat insects. They build distinctive nests with hanging tails under protective foliage in tree forks, lay three or more speckled white eggs, and raise two to five broods in a season. The population fluctuates, but tends to recover quickly if it drops. The oldest bird known was three years. Fantails are common in forest, rural and urban environments.
This cute little fantail sang and danced around me for at least 5 minutes. He swooped through the tree branches catching tiny insects in mid air and he would come back and land on the branch where he sang and danced. It was almost as if he was telling me a story and showing off at the same time. I held the camera up to him and at one point I thought he was going to land on my hand. I think he could see his reflection in the camera lens, he was very impressed and pleased with himself.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35 March 2011 Rural Southland
Dressed For Success
A Quick Pose – Fantail
I’m ignoring you! – Fantail