Family Fantails (Rhipiduridae)

Least Concern

Rufous-backed Fantail (Rhipidura rufidorsa)


French: Rhipidure à dos roux German: Rostrücken-Fächerschwanz Spanish: Abanico dorsirrufo

Rhipidura rufidorsa

A. B. Meyer

, 1874,

Passim, Rubi, Geelvink Bay, and Yapen Island, western New Guinea


May be closest to R. dahli, R. matthiae and R. malaitae. Birds from Port Moresby area said to differ vocally from those in upper Fly R#R; study required. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • R. r. rufidorsa A. B. Meyer, 1874 – West Papuan Is (Misool I) and lowland New Guinea E to Astrolabe Bay and, in S, to Fly R; Yapen I, in Geelvink Bay.
  • R. r. kumusi Mathews, 1928 – N coast of SE New Guinea (Kumusi R E to Collingwood Bay).
  • R. r. kubuna Rand, 1938 – S coast of SE New Guinea (Angabunga R E to Yeimauri R area).
  • Descriptive notes

    13–14 cm; 9–10 g. Has crown and nape grey, side of head buffy to greyish, upperparts rufous; remiges greyish-brown, edged with rufous, wing-coverts rufous; tail... read more


    Song 3 rising whistled notes, each one tone higher than previous, and 3–5 (sometimes 8) high-... read more


    Rainforest, monsoon forest, nearby tall secondary growth and swamp-forest; lowlands to c. 650 m,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects. Forages from near ground level to below canopy, but mostly in lower to middle levels. Food obtained by gleaning, flycatching-... read more


    Nest with eggs in Jul, recently fledged young in early Oct, fledglings in late Aug, birds in breeding condition May–Aug (testes... read more


    Sedentary; individuals observed or recaptured for up to 3 years at same locality.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Generally very common to fairly common in lowlands, less so in hills. Estimated density of 6 birds/10 ha at lowland rainforest site near R Brown, in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Boles, W. (2019). Rufous-backed Fantail (Rhipidura rufidorsa). 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 6 December 2019).