Primary School Science Conservation 2020 Award

Date posted: 18-Dec-2020

Dylan Lewis Y7 from Mahurangi College, Warkworth, being presented with the ..

Supporters of Tiritiri Inc and Fullers 360 Science Conservation 2020 Award

Date posted: 18-Dec-2020

The NIWA Auckland City Science and Technology Fair winner of the Supporters of Tiritiri ..

2020 Conservation Week

Date posted: 12-Aug-2020

Meet the Takahē on Tiritiri Matangi Island When: 1:30 pm, ..

AGM 2020

Date posted: 25-Jul-2020

PLEASE NOTE CHANGE OF DATE TO WEDNESDAY 21ST OCTOBER 2020 due to Covid restrictions at t..

Ferry Resuming July 4th!

Date posted: 01-Jun-2020

Great News!!! We have confirmation Fuller360 ferry service to Tiritiri Matangi wi..

The 2020 Photo Competition Winners

Date posted: 22-May-2020

Here are the winning and commended photos from this year's competition. Congratulations to the photo..

Celebrate the Takahe Art Competition

Date posted: 08-Apr-2020

Hi Tiri Kids, It’s TakahÄ“ Awareness Month! Everyone loves our takah..

COVID-19 Important Information

Date posted: 25-Mar-2020

The government has announced that New Zealand is now at alert level 2 for COVID-19. Th..

2019 Winner Primary School Supporters of Tiritiri and Fullers 360 Science Award is Ethan Raymond

Date posted: 11-Mar-2020

Ethan has helped the Enviro-Warriors in many ways such as planning, gard..

2019 Winner Y8-Y13 NIWA Supporters of Tiritiri and Fullers 360 Science Award is Abby Haezelwood

Date posted: 11-Mar-2020

Abby Haezelwood with her winning Science Exhibit on Plastic Beaches at the NIWA Taihoro Nuk..


Scientific name:

 Rhipidura fuliginosa placabilis

Maori Name:




Conservation status

 Endemic, Not threatened

Mainland status:

 Widespread and locally abundant 


 16cm, 8g


 Oldest recorded in NZ 3 years


 August - February


 Mainly invertebrates, some fruit

Fantail - photographer: Max McRaeThe fantail is a small native bird with a small head and bill and a long tail which opens to a fan, giving the bird its name. It has a grey head, white eyebrow and white and black band under the chin on the upper chest. The back is brown and the underparts are a peachy gold. The tail is black and white. The juvenile looks very similar but lacks the upper chest markings and has a browner body and rusty-brown wing coverts. There is a dark phase which is found mainly in the South Island, which is sooty black except for a white spot behind the eye.

Fantails feed mainly on invertebrates taken whilst flying. Using their fanned tail they are very manoeuverable which helps them quickly change direction whilst catching flies. They are known to move around upside down amongst tree ferns and foliage to pick insects from the undersides of leaves. Their main prey are moths, flies, spiders, wasps, and beetles. 

Although the fantail lifespan is relatively short in New Zealand (oldest recorded 3 yrs but in Australia they have been recorded up to 10 yrs) the breed survives due to the prolific and early breeding. Juvenile males can start breeding between two and nine months old and as many as five clutches can be laid in one season, with between two and five eggs per clutch. The fantails stay in pairs all year but high mortality means they are seldom together for more than a season. Both adults incubate for about 14 days and the chicks fledge at about 13 days. Both adults feed the young, but as soon as the female starts building the next nest the male takes over the role of feeding the previous brood.

The main fantail contact call is a penetrating cheet cheet, sounding a bit like a squeaky toy.

Although fantails are often encountered in the forest, they are perhaps most frequently seen in areas of short grass, where they follow people and other large animals around to catch insects disturbed by their feet. On Tiritiri Matangi they are most often found along the East Coast Track, and at certain times of year, when the season's juveniles are out and about, there can be as many as 20 or more on the lawn below the Visitor Centre.

Learn more about the fantail at New Zealand Birds Online.

Photography by: Max McRae ©

References: Heather, B.D.; Robertson, H.A. 2000 The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand. Auckland, Viking.