Fantail

Maori Name: 
Piwakawaka
Scientific Name: 
Rhipidura fuliginosa
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16 cm (including 8 cm tail), 8 g. Small bird with small head and bill; long tail, often fanned. Pied phase has grey head, white eyebrow, brown back; yellow underparts, with white and black bands across chest; black and white tail. Juvenile similar, but browner body, rusty-brown wing coverts, and indistinct chest markings. Island subspecies have variable white in tail, most in Chathams. Black phase, mainly in South I, all sooty black except white spot behind eye. Restless movements; twists and jerks on a perch, tail fanned, flies out to seize flying insects. Erratic flight as it hawks over forest or scrub canopy, into an insect swarm over a clearing, paddock, pond or garden. Call a penetrating ''cheet''; song a harsh rhythmical ''saw-like'' ''tweeta-tweet-a-tweet-a-tweet . . .'' Habitat: Forest, scrub, farmland with hedges and shelterbelts, river margins, parks and gardens. Breeding: Aug-Mar.

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