Family Fantails (Rhipiduridae)

Least Concern

New Zealand Fantail (Rhipidura fuliginosa)


French: Rhipidure à collier German: Neuseeland-Fächerschwanz Spanish: Abanico maorí

Muscicapa fuliginosa


, 1787,

South Island, New Zealand


Often considered conspecific with R. albiscapa (which see). In past, commonly treated as including R. phasiana (which see). Extinct Lord Howe race †cervina has sometimes been considered a full species, but is perhaps more appropriately treated as a well-marked race of present species. Three extant subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • R. f. cervina E. P. Ramsay, 1879 – Lord Howe Fantail – Lord Howe I, off E Australia.
  • R. f. placabilis Bangs, 1921 – N New Zealand: North I and adjacent islands (Three Kings Is, Hen and Chickens Is, Mokohinau Is, and islands of Little Barrier, Great Barrier, Mayor, Kapiti).
  • R. f. fuliginosa (Sparrman, 1787) – New Zealand Fantail – S New Zealand: South I, Stewart I and adjacent islands.
  • R. f. penita Bangs, 1911 – Chatham Is (Chatham, Pitt, Southeast).
  • Descriptive notes

    14–17 cm; 6·5–9 g. New Zealand populations have two colour morphs, which co-occur in some areas; pied morph more common, black morph comprising 12–25... read more


    Both sexes sing, female less than male; may sing on nest. Song, combinations of two note types,... read more


    Almost any wooded habitat, both native and introduced, including forests, parks and gardens,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet consists of insects, normally flying ones; particularly Coleoptera (beetles), Diptera (flies), Lepidoptera (butterflies, moths) and... read more


    In New Zealand, Aug–Mar in North I and Sept–Jan in South I; probably late Oct to late Jan in Chatham Is; often 2 or more broods... read more


    Mainly resident throughout year, except for post-breeding shift from highlands to lower altitudes;... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Widespread and common in New Zealand (except in unforested areas) and surrounding islands. May have increased owing to ability to adapt to human-... read more

    Recommended citation

    Boles, W. (2020). New Zealand Fantail (Rhipidura fuliginosa). 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 18 February 2020).