Backyard Buddies
Grey Fantail

Photo: Rosie Nicolai

Grey Fantail

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Grey Fantails are extremely active little birds. Their distinctive flying style has earned them the nicknames Mad Fans or Cranky Fans.

Agile but erratic, Grey Fantails are very adept at hunting for food mid-air. They eat many different kinds of insects such as flies, wasps and bees. Smaller prey are eaten straight away when caught, whereas fantails take the larger insects back to their perches.

Avoid using insecticide or bug zappers in your garden and let Grey Fantails be your free and friendly bug controllers.

Grey Fantails are often seen flying around near our homes in winter. Plant some local natives in your backyard at different heights and densities to provide food and a home for smaller native birds like the Grey Fantail.

If you want to see a fantail up close, avoid making any sudden movements. Try imitating their ‘chip, chip’ call or making humming or kissing sounds. Grey Fantails are very inquisitive birds and may follow you around the garden or respond to your calls.

 You can make your backyard friendlier for Grey Fantails

Planting local natives that attract insects will also attract fantails. The Genoa Glory (Callistemon forrestarae) and the Bekta Beauty (Callistemon kenmorrisonii) both attract insects which the Grey Fantail loves to eat, and also provide nectar for honey eating birds, pollen for native bees and seed for other birds to feed on.

The Grey Fantail loves a small bird bath placed next to a dense bush. Having the brushy shrub nearby shelters them from the wind, and also gives them a handy place to hide if a cat, crow, territorial honeyeater, butcher bird or other bird of prey appears.

If we do a few simple things locally, our gardens and parks can be safe places for Grey Fantails and will provide them with the food and homes they need. Simple things that you do can make a huge difference to Australia’s animals. That’s why the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife is running Backyard Buddies— to give you tips to help.

What is a backyard buddy?

Backyard buddies are the native animals that share our built-up areas, our beaches and waterways, our backyards and our parks. Grey Fantails are backyard buddies.

Backyard buddies are also the local people who value the living things around them, like Grey Fantails, and are willing to protect and encourage them by doing a few simple things around their own homes.

So you can be a backyard buddy.

Be a backyard buddy

It’s easy. All you have to do is care... and take a few simple steps.

Step one is to find out what Grey Fantails do and do not like.

Grey Fantails love:

Insects – which they catch mid-air and eat, or feed to their young.

People – who disturb insects that Grey Fantails can eat while we are walking or mowing the lawn.

Dense native shrubs – that give them somewhere to hide from predators.

Clean water – in a small bird bath, water feature or even a plastic container for them to drink, play and bathe in.

Trees and bushes – to build their wine-glass shaped nests in.

But they don’t like:

Cats and dogs – which can frighten or attack them.

Wide open spaces with few plant types – in which bigger, more aggressive birds thrive and drive them away.

Be a Buddy to Grey Fantails

Try to:


Don’t be surprised if Grey Fantails:

Find out more about your buddies

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