Friday, June 5, 2009

Sorting out the fantails

Fantails. Cheery companions for woodland walkers. But not always exactly what they seem. Grey Fantail (Rhipidura albiscapa - formerly fuliginosa) used to flit about in five races: albicauda, keasti, alisteri (above), preissi, and albiscapa. Christidis and Boles 2008 omit the first four races. But named or unnamed, they're all still where they were, north, south, east, west, high and low, cheeky as ever.

Here in Tyto, alisteri, as was, still sings sharply and sweetly. Darker keasti rarely drops in from tableland forest habitat. Mangrove Grey Fantail (Rhipidura phasiana) inhabits coastal NT and WA, but looks almost exactly like the alisteri above.

From some angles the grey Northern Fantail (Rhipidura rufiventris) can look very Grey-ish. Adding to confusion, they sound almost exactly like the one-note Graceful Honeyeater - not at all fantail-ish.(And Willie Wagtails are really fantails - but cause little confusion.)


mick said...

Interesting post and of course great photos. I have been trying to get photos of one of these for a couple of weeks but mine are neither clear nor close :-(

geoff from yea said...

That's very interesting and helpful, Tony. Keep up the brilliant work.

Tyto Tony said...

Patience, Mick. They'll sit still and close some day.

Thanks Geoff. how's things down your way?

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