Backyard Buddies
Rufous Fantail

Photo: Ken Stepnell/OEH

Rufous Fantail

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Rufous Fantails belong to the flycatcher family, and like their relatives, they build distinctive wine glass shaped nests, which have a stem extending from the base.

Migration is a largely solo affair for these birds. Rufous Fantails don’t form flocks to head north, but generally go alone or in small groups.

Listen out for them calling ‘chip’ from your garden, or ‘chip-chip’ if they’re flying.

You might also know these birds by another name, such as Red Fantail, Rufous-fronted Fantail or Black-breasted Rufous Fantail.

This is a buddy notorious for always being on the move, hopping and flying about or tumbling acrobatically through the air as it catches insects on the wing.

Your energetic little brown bird may not stay for long, however. From February through to April, Rufous Fantails from southern Australia move north in search of warmer weather over winter.

Rufous Fantails are more commonly seen in suburban gardens during migration.

You can make your backyard friendlier for Rufous Fantails

You can make your garden an oasis for travelling Rufous Fantails. Put out a birdbath, and plant some local natives that attract insects. Some of these natives include Bursaria spinosa, Kunzea ericoides, Goodenia ovata, Myoporum viscosum, Acacias and Eucalyptus trees. Ask at your local nursery or council which local natives are suitable.

Our gardens and parks can be safe places for Rufous 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. Rufous Fantails are backyard buddies.

Backyard buddies are also the local people who value the living things around them, like Rufous 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 Rufous Fantails do and do not like.

Rufous Fantails love:

Small insects – which make up the majority of their diet. They find these treats by aerially foraging and rarely perch for long.

Warm weather – they migrate north every year to live out the colder months in the sunny, tropical parts of Australia

A spot of shade – the Rufous Fantail can most often be found in forest undergrowth, sheltering under large leaves and dense shrubs and around swamp areas. They visit our gardens during migration.

But they don’t like:

Brush Cuckoos – who can hijack the nests of the Rufous Fantails and lay their own eggs inside.

Be a Buddy to Rufous Fantails

Try to:


Don’t be surprised if Rufous Fantails:

Find out more about your buddies

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