Family Fantails (Rhipiduridae)

Least Concern

Northern Fantail (Rhipidura isura)


French: Rhipidure de Gould German: Strichelfächerschwanz Spanish: Abanico norteño

Rhipidura isura


, 1841,

north-west coast of Australia = Port Essington, Northern Territory


One of several taxa recently split from R. rufiventris#R (which see). Differs from all other taxa in that complex in characters given under each species. Geographical variation among races fairly marked, and vocal evidence#R may in due course lead to the separation of several further species. Ten subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • R. i. vidua Salvadori & Turati, 1874 – Kofiau, in West Papuan Is.
  • R. i. gularis S. Müller, 1843 – Gebe I, West Papuan Is (except Kofiau), New Guinea, including islands in Geelvink Bay (except Biak; apparently absent from Numfor#R), Manam I, Goodenough I and Fergusson I, and islands in Torres Strait.
  • R. i. nigromentalis E. J. O. Hartert, 1898 – Louisiade Archipelago (Misima, Tagula), off SE New Guinea.
  • R. i. niveiventris Rothschild & E. J. O. Hartert, 1914 – Admiralty Is (Manus, Rambutyo), in NW Bismarck Archipelago.
  • R. i. mussai Rothschild & E. J. O. Hartert, 1924 – Mussau I, in St Matthias Group, N Bismarck Archipelago.
  • R. i. setosa (Quoy & Gaimard, 1830) – New Hanover, New Ireland and Djaul I, in EC Bismarck Archipelago.
  • R. i. gigantea Stresemann, 1933 – Tabar Is and Lihir Is (off E New Ireland), in EC Bismarck Archipelago.
  • R. i. tangensis Mayr, 1955 – Boang, in Tanga Is, in EC Bismarck Archipelago.
  • R. i. finschii Salvadori, 1882 – New Britain, Duke of York I, Watom I and Lolobau I, in S Bismarck Archipelago.
  • R. i. isura Gould, 1841 – N Australia from about Broome (in N Western Australia) E across Top End to NE Queensland (S to vicinity of Proserpine).
  • Descriptive notes

    16.5–18.5 cm; 10–15 g. Adult nominate race has short, thin white supercilium from above lores to just behind eye; forehead, lores, upper malar region and ear-coverts brownish... read more


    Song in Australia (nominate race) consists of 3–5 tinkling descending notes, usually preceded by a... read more


    Occurs in a range of forested habitats, from rainforest and monsoon forest to swamp-forest, gallery... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, including beetles (Coleoptera), flies (Diptera), bugs (Hemiptera), hymenopterans, termites (Isoptera), lepidopterans, and... read more


    May–Feb in Australia; appears to breed from dry season to middle of wet season, with peak in late dry season (Sept–Oct), in New Guinea; 1–2... read more


    Resident in most of range. Some seasonal movements in N Australia: apparent post-breeding shift... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common or fairly common to abundant in most of range. Density in lowland rainforest near R Brown, in SE New Guinea, estimated at 20... read more

    Recommended citation

    del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Christie, D.A. (2019). Northern Fantail (Rhipidura isura). 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 20 July 2019).