Grey Fantail

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The Grey Fantail. Copyright K. Vang, W.Dabrowka/Bird Explorers. Image provided to Glen Eira City Council by Ian Dalton Design and Art Direction.

You may have noticed a delightful local bird called the Grey Fantail (Rhipidura albiscapa) in local parks and gardens.

This inquisitive, small bird is recognisable by its display of agile aerial twists and turns and by its appearance — grey on top with lighter grey below, white eyebrows, throat and edges of a constantly fanned tail.

During waking hours, the Grey Fantail flits from perch-to-perch, sometimes on the ground, but mostly on twigs of a tree on the lookout for flying insects.

The Grey Fantail lives mostly in habitats with trees. It also visits urban gardens, especially during autumn and winter.

The Grey Fantail is vulnerable to removal of habitat, predators and competition from larger birds. Use of chemical poisons (pesticides or insecticides) endangers the Grey Fantail by removing insects which are an important source of food for birds. Insects also pollinate flowers. Encouraging a healthy bird population will help keep pest insects in check.

There are a range of local native shrubs that can help attract and protect the Grey Fantail, including the Sweet Bursaria (Bursaria spinosa).

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Sweet Bursaria (Bursaria spinosa). Photo: James Booth

Height: two to five metres
Width: two to four metres
Flowers: November–February

Sweet Bursaria has massed bunches of tiny, creamy white flowers at the ends of its branches.

This valuable habitat plant attracts insects and spiders to the showy flowers which in turn attract birds that use the spider's web for nest building. Sweet Bursaria offers bird protection with its spiny branches.

The plant tolerates dry soil, moderate winds, full or part sun and all soil types.

This plant is long-lived and easily grown.

There are other local native plants that may also attract insects which are a source of food. Your local nursery will be able to assist you.