46 / Fantail

Rhipidura fuliginosa

Known to Māori as the pīwakawaka, the fantail is one of the most common and widely distributed native birds on the New Zealand mainland. It is small and extremely lively, with a long tail that – as its name suggests – provides a fan-like display. It catches insects on the wing and also eats caterpillars and spiders. It is found in the bush and has also adapted to human settlement, taking to domestic gardens and often entering houses in pursuit of insects. In 1899 a Wellington newspaper described the aerial antics of the fantail, ‘flitting about the room, here, there, and everywhere … throwing itself into every conceivable attitude, picturesque and fantastic, in its hunt after flies.’

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