Birds of the Week: Fantails

The aerobatic piwkawaka

By Cushla McGaughey

Living mainly on insects captured in flight, piwakawaka are never still. They constantly flick their tails and perform aerobatics.

The little feather-weights are as fearless as robins, but unlike robins, fantails have a life-style that could adapt to urban living.

They dare to flutter around us, fielding insects flushed out underfoot. They’ll even flit into an open garage to tweak spiders from their webs.

All in the family

Fantail pairs remain together all year. They raise up to four broods a year, starting in spring as soon as insect food becomes plentiful.

The compact circular nest with its distinctive dangling tail is set in the forks of shrubs or in tree-fern fronds near a stream.

Growing chicks are fed frequently by both parents and soon bulge from the small nest cup. After two weeks they have to leave the nest.

The fledglings then perch together along a branch, waiting to be fed. The family group remains together until the next nest is started.




This is simply beautiful. Looking forward to opening the exhibition at Mahara tomorrow.