By: Christopher Cookson
Fantails or piwakawaka (Rhipidura fuliginosa) are a small, common, insectivorous bird endemic to New Zealand. Both pied and black varieties occur.
Fantails are distinctive with their aerial acrobatics, frequent cheeping call, and frequent close approach to humans.
Fantails have a short lifespan of only 2-5 years, however they also have a rapid breeding cycle with an incubation period of only 14 days followed by another 13 days to fledging, with the potential to breed several times in a season. This rapid breeding cycle has enabled fantails to remain common in spite of introduced predators and alteration of habitats.
Fantails can often be seen in domestic gardens with trees, where they hunt small insects. They are common throughout Marlborough except for open country at higher altitudes such as Molesworth.