Aspects of the behaviour of the South Island fantail, Rhipidura fuliginosa fuliginosa
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
The fantail is a small passerine belonging to the family Muscicapidae (subfamily Muscicapinae), which also contains such birds as tits, robins and flycatchers. The fantails of the genus Rhipidura inhabit Australia, New Guinea, the Philippines, parts of South-East Asia, New Zealand and many remote islands of the Pacific (Gilliard 1958). The New Zealand Fantail is divided into three subspecies which are dimorphic with pied and black phases which freely interbreed. This study is concerned with the subspecies Rhipidura fuliginosa fuliginosa (the South Island Fantail). Although the New Zealand Fantail is common throughout its range, very little information is available on its biology and behaviour. The few studies undertaken in New Zealand have been concerned with plumage patterns, particularly with respect to differences between pied and black phases (Fleming 1949, Soper 1964, Kinsky 1965). In a related study. Caughley (1969) studied the genetics of melanism in the fantail. The only study which provided some insight into the behaviour of this bird was undertaken by Blackburn (1965); his work was on the North Island Fantail and it was mainly concerned with the breeding biology of the subspecies rather than the behaviour. A few notes on the sighting of fantails, or brief descriptions on the nesting and re-use of nests by New Zealand Fantails have been published (Moncrieff 1931. Fleming 1949, Cunningham 1954. Blackburn 1966, Coates 1966, Flux 1974).