Facts about a New Zealand fantail

New Zealand fantail.

New Zealand fantail

If you have ever had the opportunity of trekking into the bushlands or mountains of New Zealand, you have certainly met New Zealand’s little flycatcher, the pied fantail

He is the small bird who cheekily follows along behind you, hoping to catch the odd insect that you stirred up.

The fantail is aptly named because he cannot resist displaying his colourful fanlike tail.

He emits a trilling, chirpy sound while on the move and sometimes, just to attract your attention, he will sit on a twig and call: “Cheet, cheet!”

As soon as you glance up he will open his “fan” and then take off in short, acrobatic flights back and forth.

Sometimes, if you will not look his way, he will daringly sidle up to within a metre of you, then dart off to start his trilling again.

He is about as large as a house sparrow.

On his head and back he sports a coat of dark olive brown extending down to the tip of two of his middle tail feathers.

The rest of his tail is white.

He has a yellowish-buff waistcoat on his stomach, and his throat sports a white necktie, while he has a little white bar above his eye.

While usually living in the bushland, sometimes the fantail will venture into gardens, even flitting through an open window in his constant search for flies and small insects.

Bird lovers can entice him into their garden by planting abelia hedge plants or similar insect-attracting shrubs.

But a word of warning:

This friendly little low-flying bird is easy prey for cats.

Hence, if you prefer feline friends, do not try to attract the fantail.

The fantail makes a beautifully compact, cup-shaped nest out of fibres, moss and bark, lined inside with horsehair and a coating of cobwebs.

He may have four or five broods in one season (usually between August and January), and the tiny chicks are hatched in 15 days.

The work of nest building is carried out by both Mother and Father.

At least, that is the case with the first nest of the season.

Somehow, though, Dad gets tired of nest building after that and takes on feeding duties.

It is little wonder that people take pleasure in this little bird.