Fun New Zealand Fantail Facts For Kids

Joan Agie
Feb 29, 2024 By Joan Agie
Originally Published on Sep 02, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
Amazing New Zealand fantail facts that you won't believe.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.7 Min

The New Zealand fantail (Rhipidura fuliginosa) belongs to the family Rhipiduridae, of the order Passeriformes. They can be mostly found on the Islands of New Zealand. Their habitats include extensive native forest blocks, small forest patches, scrubland, exotic plantations, farm shelterbelts, orchards, and well-treed suburban parks and gardens. The New Zealand fantail bird is somewhat similar to the New Zealand gray fantail who resides in Australia and New Caledonia.

The New Zealand fantail has restless movements, which has often been compared to a fidgety person. During the cold season, these birds find their food on grounds and their feeding habitat also involves catching insects from the air during their flight. Rats are serious predators for their eggs which is why fantails need to take care of their eggs. These birds generally forage and catch insects while flying.

You can also check out interesting facts about other birds such as ovenbird facts and umbrellabird facts.

New Zealand Fantail Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a New Zealand fantail?

A New Zealand fantail (Rhipidura fuliginosa) is a type of bird. It is also known by other names, including pied morph.

What class of animal does a New Zealand fantail belong to?

The New Zealand fantail bird belongs to the Aves class of animals and the phylum Chordata. These birds are small predators.

How many New Zealand fantails are there in the world?

The exact number of New Zealand fantail birds across the world is unknown. However, this species of birds are of Least Concern since they have a stable population. There are four subspecies of these birds, and the New Zealand fantail is an insectivorous bird found only in New Zealand.

Where does a New Zealand fantail live?

New Zealand fantails (Rhipidura fuliginosa) mostly live in New Zealand and can be found in the South Island, North Island, Chatham Islands, and Lord Howe Island. Fantail birds are the one and only birds of this new species living in New Zealand. The fantail is one of the native species that are capable of adapting to environments altered by humans. They are also familiar to exotic plantation forests, orchards, gardens, and even on a large strand of shrubs and trees.

What is a New Zealand fantail's habitat?

The New Zealand fantail (Rhipidura fuliginosa) has adopted habitats among forests, islands, and grasslands. These birds have a distribution range that extends from sea level to the snow line. The subspecies are found in the same habitat and they are resilient to environmental change because of their broad diet. This bird flies and perches from one tree to another looking for flying insects to catch and eat.

Who do New Zealand fantails live with?

New Zealand fantails live in pairs for the whole year. They breed and forage for insects together while also taking care of the young chicks.

How long does a New Zealand fantail live?

The total lifespan of fantail birds is around one year. Therefore, there is a minimum chance for them to refine their nesting quality across multiple breeding seasons. Earlier, they had an average lifespan of around three years. This species of bird is very short-lived.

How do they reproduce?

The fantail is a seasonal breeder and its breeding season differs in different regions. For instance, their breeding season on the North Island occurs from August to March, on the South Island from September to January, and on Chatham Island from October to January. Usually, two or more broods are raised in a season. They build their nests in a cup-shaped nest, mostly in tree forks. The nest material includes moss, bark, and fiber, complete with a spider's web. Both the male and female contribute to making the nest and incubating the eggs, which are brown and gray in color. The incubation period is around two weeks and the responsibility of feeding the chicks is shared by both the parents. The process of nest building and incubation is done for the second breed while the first one is still being fed. There is a benefit for those nests which are built on thin branches as they are more likely to escape predation from ship rats compared to those built on thick branches. Chicks generally reach maturity after about three to four weeks.

What is their conservation status?

The New Zealand fantail's conservation status is of Least Concern according to the IUCN. In total, there are 10 subspecies of fantail but only three are found in New Zealand. Currently, they have a stable population.

New Zealand Fantail Fun Facts

What do New Zealand fantails look like?

New Zealand Fantail perched on a wood

These birds look similar to gray fantails. The New Zealand fantail is brown and light gray in color, with yellow-orange underparts and a dark band across the chest below a white throat, with white markings over the eyes, and either white-edged or entirely white outer tail feathers. From the total length of the fantails, half-length is of the tail and this implies that the outer tail feathers are light and the center ones are dark. The black morph mainly lacks the white area and its whole body, except for the white spot behind its eyes. The adult fantail's head is round and black. New Zealand fantail feathers are gray, brown, or black in color.

How cute are they?

Fantails are pretty cute and attractive. They catch their prey from the air and feed on flying insects.

How do they communicate?

Fantail calls are generally vocal except for when it is freezing. Their calls are usually cheeping and they sing in a repeated voice like a chattering 'tweeta-tweeta-tweeta,' of regular rhythm.

How big is a New Zealand fantail?

These fantails species have a total body length of around 6.3 in (16 cm) in length, which is five times bigger than a chestnut-backed chickadee.

How fast can a New Zealand fantail fly?

Their exact speed is unknown.

How much does a New Zealand fantail weigh?

New Zealand fantails can weigh up to 0.2 oz (8 g), which is slightly smaller than the chestnut-sided warbler.

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names to describe the male and female of this species. Therefore, they are known as New Zealand fantail males and New Zealand fantail females.

What would you call a baby New Zealand fantail?

Baby New Zealand fantails are known as chicks.

What do they eat?

The New Zealand fantail's diet consists of small invertebrates, moths, flies, beetles, and spiders. In cold weather, they find their food on the ground and feed on insects flying in the air. Rats are predators for them and may eat their eggs.

Are they dangerous?

They are not dangerous in any way.

Would they make a good pet?

They are wild birds and are not safe to keep as a pet, but they can live in places altered by humans. Feeding the New Zealand fantail properly is a must.

Did you know...

The New Zealand fantail makes an appearance in many Mauri myths and legends.

What does a fantail represent?

The rainforest fantail has been considered a symbol of bad luck in some parts of New Zealand.

What role do New Zealand fantails play in the ecosystem?

These birds greatly help in seed dispersion and the pollination of flowers.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our palm cockatoo facts and blackpoll warbler facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable New Zealand fantail coloring pages.

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Written by Joan Agie

Bachelor of Science specializing in Human Anatomy

Joan Agie picture

Joan AgieBachelor of Science specializing in Human Anatomy

With 3+ years of research and content writing experience across several niches, especially on education, technology, and business topics. Joan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Anatomy from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria, and has worked as a researcher and writer for organizations across Nigeria, the US, the UK, and Germany. Joan enjoys meditation, watching movies, and learning new languages in her free time.

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