Raising fantails

Grey Fantails: new generation

Shows Greay Fantail, Edward Hunter Heritage Bush Reserve

Grey Fantail, Rhipidura albiscapa

Shows Grey Fantail on nest, Edward Hunter Heritage Bush Reserve

Grey Fantail, perched over three nestlings.

Grey Fantails, Rhipidura albiscapa, breed from July to January and may raise several sets of young during this time. Once eggs are laid, it takes two weeks for incubation and then it takes another three weeks before the young leave the nest.

We have been observing this nest for just a little time, watching as a pair of adults feed and brood over three young birds. As with Fairy-wrens, paternity for the nestlings can be mixed. The adult pair – the markings of male and female are essentially the same – share feeding duties, bringing insects of all kinds to their hungry young. The frequency of visits with food was up to a minute-and-a-half over the last few days.

Shows three nestlings, Grey Fantails, Edward Hunter Heritage Bush Reserve

Three young birds, waiting between feedings

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Three hungry nestlings

Shows nestlings of Grey Fantails, Edward Hunter Heritage Bush Reserve

One nestling more active than its siblings

On the first day of the new year, the nest had been abandoned.

Shows nest, Grey Fantails, Edward Hunter Heritage Bush Reserve

Empty nest. The nest shape – like an open cup – is a feature of Grey Fantails. Nest locations are selected and built by females and the nests are made of bark and dry grass and coated with spider webbing.

The nestlings had remained very still in-between visits from their parents but there is a high level of nest depredation for Grey Fantails (up to 83% according to Munro (2007)) – Pied Currawongs are known predators and these can be a high-profile bird in the Reserve – and we thought this group of nestlings must have been taken.

It was wonderful to see that one had actually successfully fledged.

Shows Grey Fantail fledgling, Edward Huner Heritage Bush Reserve

Baby Grey Fantail has successfully left the nest

The adults continued to feed the remaining young bird – and we had no clue as to the eventual fate of the two siblings. It is more rufous in colouring than its parents, with remaining fluff evident.

Shows Grey Fantail parent with fledgling, Edward Huner Heritage Bush Reserve

A successful effort

Shows Grey Fantail, Edward Hunter Heritage Bush Reserve

One of the parents – a blush of colour can still be seen on the underside

Sources and further information

Beckman, C., Biro, P.A. & Martin, K. (2015) Hierarchical analysis of avian re-nesting behavior: mean, across-individual, and intra-individual responses, Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology, 69 (10), 1631-1638 – see http://dro.deakin.edu.au/view/DU:30077919

Birds In Backyards (n.d.) Grey Fantail Basic Information – see http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/species/Rhipidura-albiscapa

 

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