Grey Fantails: new generation
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.
On the first day of the new year, the nest had been abandoned.
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.
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.
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