Family Fantails (Rhipiduridae)

Least Concern

Grey Fantail (Rhipidura albiscapa)


French: Rhipidure gris German: Graufächerschwanz Spanish: Abanico gris

Rhipidura albiscapa


, 1840,



Forms a clade with R. fuliginosa#R, and formerly considered conspecific, but differs markedly in vocalizations. See also R. phasiana. Races very similar, varying mainly in levels of saturation. Eight subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • R. a. brenchleyi Sharpe, 1879 – SE Solomon Is (Makira), Banks Is and Vanuatu.
  • R. a. bulgeri E. L. Layard, 1877 – New Caledonia, I of Pines and Loyalty Is (Lifou, where perhaps only vagrant#R).
  • R. a. pelzelni G. R. Gray, 1862 – Norfolk I.
  • R. a. keasti Ford, 1981 – NE Australia (highlands of Atherton Tablelands and Clarke Range, in NE Queensland).
  • R. a. albicauda North, 1895 – C Australia.
  • R. a. alisteri Mathews, 1911 – EC, SE & SC Australia; on migration to N Australia and, possibly, New Guinea.
  • R. a. albiscapa Gould, 1840 – Tasmania and Bass Strait islands; non-breeding SE Australia.
  • R. a. preissi Cabanis, 1851 – #RSW Australia; on migration to NW Australia.
  • Descriptive notes

    14–17 cm; 6·5–9 g. Male nominate race has upperparts sooty grey, sides of face sooty, with short, narrow white supercilium and narrow white streak above... read more


    Both sexes sing, female less than male; may sing on nest; prominent in dawn chorus in spring and... read more


    Almost any wooded habitat, including parks and gardens, warm and cool rainforest, other forest and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, usually flying ones; particularly Coleoptera (beetles), Diptera (flies) and Hymenoptera (bees, wasps, ants), all of which are... read more


    In Australia Aug–Jan, longer in S; nest-building and dependent young in Sept on San Cristobal (Solomons); Sept–Jan in Vanuatu;... read more


    Migratory, nomadic or sedentary in different parts of range; movements may be related in some... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common throughout range; may have increased owing to ability to adapt to human-modified habitats, although some apparent declines in highly urbanized... read more

    Recommended citation

    Boles, W. (2020). 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 on 24 February 2020).