Capricorn Coast Birds
   
 
  Fantails  
 
 

Fantails are an Australasian family whose members live in most available habitats, from deserts and mangrove forests to highly modified agricultural and urban environments, and can be found from Samoa to as far as northern India.

 
 
         
  Willie Wagtail
Rhipidura leucophrys
Average size 20cm
 
 
 
These are found throughout mainland Australia but are absent from Tasmania, their range  also includes  New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, the Bismarck Archipelago and the Moluccas.
Willie Wagtails are found in most open habitats such as open forests and woodlands but are less common in wet forests and rainforests. They have adapted well to human alteration of the landscape and are a common sight in urban lawns, parks, and gardens.
They are very active feeders and can often be seen darting around lawns as they hunt for the wide variety of insects that make up their diet.  
Males and females look alike and are highly territorial, being quite fearless in defence of their territory.  Their nest is a neatly woven cup of grasses, covered with spider's web on the outside and lined internally with soft grasses, hair or fur. It is generally placed on a horizontal branch of a tree and may be re-used in successive years. Young birds stay with the parents until the eggs from the next clutch start to hatch when they are driven away, if conditions are favourable  the couple may raise up to four successive clutches in a single season.
 
 
  Grey Fantail
Rhipidura albiscapa
Average size 15 cm
 
 
These common fantails are easily recognised by their constantly fanned tail and agile aerial twists and turns. They are found throughout Australia, except arid areas, and also New Guinea and nearby islands. They live in a broad range of habitats but particularly in eucalypt forests, woodlands, coastal scrub and thickly planted urban gardens, however they avoid densely forested areas such as rainforest.
These birds are almost never still and constantly flit from perch to perch, sometimes on the ground but mostly on the twigs of a tree or any other convenient object, looking out for the wide variety of flying insects on which they feed. They are not shy, they even seem quite inquisitive, and will closely approach an observer.
The sexes are similar in appearance and pairs are fiercely territorial, they build a compact, cup-shaped nest made from moss, bark and fibre, often completed with spider's web, in a thin tree fork between 2 and 5 metres from the ground. Both parents share nest-building, incubation of the eggs and feeding of the young and may raise several broods in a season.
   
 
Rufous Fantail
Rhipidura rufifrons
Average size 15cm
 
   

These are found in northern and eastern coastal Australia but are most common in the north of their range. They are also found in New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Sulawesi and Guam.
They live in rainforest, dense wet forests, woodlands around swamps and around mangroves, they prefer deep shade  and are often seen close to the ground. The photo was taken in thick scrub beside Sandy Point Road near the Capricorn Resort.
They  feed on insects, foraging for them in the middle and lower levels of the canopy. They are active feeders and constantly fan their tail and flick their wings and body, they will often join mixed species when feeding.
Males and females look the same and build a small cup-shaped nest of fine grasses bound with spider webs, this is suspended from a tree fork about 5 m from the ground. Both sexes share nest-building, incubation and feeding of the young and one or two broods may be raised in a season.
Rufous Fantails are migratory, using the same route every year and having regular departure and arrival times. They migrate to south-eastern Australia in the spring to breed and return north in the autumn.