Grey fantail.
Grey fantail.

BRIGGSY’S BIRDS: Delightful tail fanning winter visitor

THE Grey Fantail is a delightful winter visitor from southern parts which flies around parks and gardens to find food.

Both sexes are similar in appearance: grey above, with white eyebrow, throat and tail edges. It feeds on flying insects that it will flush from trees and shrubs by constantly fanning its tail causing the insects to fly off followed by the bird twisting and turning to catch them.

In its pursuit of food it will often follow people walking through parks and gardens and will fly out to catch the insects that are disturbed by them

It is similar to the Willie Wagtail but is smaller and being a migrant it is only in our area during winter from March/April to September.

They build a nest in a tree fork up to 5 metres from the ground and the nest has a long tapering stem like a wine glass.

Like many other birds they bind the nest together with spiders webs.

Both parents share nest building, incubation of the eggs and feeding the young.

However, they do not nest in our local area but do so from July to January when they have returned south.

They like dense foliage where they can hide from predators so if you have a bird bath it would be a good idea to place it close to a thick shrub to encourage them to visit your garden.

It may not be the most spectacular looking bird but it makes up for that by having lots of personality.

They are sometimes given the nickname of ‘mad fans’ due to their agile but erratic flight and the constant fanning of the tail.

Allan Briggs is the secretary of BirdLife Capricornia, contact him with your questions at

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