Fantails frequently fly straight at human observers and hover a meter or two from them. Consequently, they are regarded with great affection; to the extent that one species is called the Friendly fantail. In truth, they are probably more interested in our flies than in us.

New Guinea has the most species of fan-tail and here three or four species coexist in small patches of the rainforest, foraging at dif-ferment levels. Four species occur on the Asian mainland from India through Southeast Asia to southern China. Australia has three species, with the Willie wagtail occupying much drier and more open habitats than the other fantails. They have successfully invaded the Indonesian and Pacific Islands and spread as far east as Fijian Samoa.

The most striking character of the group is the very long tail, which can be spread into an impressive fan and waved from side to side. The body is surprisingly small, the legs are delicate, and the bill is short but broad, typical of a flycatcher. The Willie wagtail is black and white, other species are all black, gray, and white, or refocus and white.

Flies, beetles, and other insects are snap-pad up in acrobatic sallies from perches in the understory or canopy. The Willie wag-tail often uses a sheep’s back as a perch and frequently takes insects from the ground. The fanned tail and hyperactivity of these birds probably help to flush insects into theirs.

The breeding biology of the Willie wagtail and the Gray fantail in New Zealand has been well studied. Fantails suspend the delicateness of bark and moss from a low, thin branch. They breed from August to February and may have several successive clutches. With nests sometimes reused and later nests being built faster than early ones. The nestlings are often preyed upon by introduced weasels and mice. Willie wag-tails place a nest of hair, wool, thistledown, bark, and dead leaves on a horizontal branch or often a man-made structure. Nests are sometimes parasitized by Pallid cuckoos: despite this, young are reared from about 65 percent of nests.

All fantails seem common and popular and most adapt well to human disturbance. Though some of the Pacific species have small distributions.

The popular name thickheads are hardly a complimentary one: preferable, for the largest genus, is whistlers as these include some of the finest songsters in a region not noted for its richness of Birdsong.

Whistlers are found from Indonesia and, Malaysia, through New Guinea and Australia to Fiji and Tonga. Most other genera occur in New Guinea or Australia. Only thepiopio comes from New Zealand, and the taxonomic position of this species is confusing; it is often placed in its own family. ‘L’hcGolden whistler super species spans the range of the subfamily: some 70 forms arc found, differing in plumage and the extent of different appearances of the sexes.

Shrike-thrushes and female whistlers are predominantly gray or brown, whereas male whistlers often have black and whiteheads and yellow or reddish breasts. Both sexes of shrike-tit have black and white striped heads, yellow breasts, and greenbacks. Shrike-tits have massive beaks, hooked on each mandible. Other species have strong, slightly hooked beaks and strong feet.

Whistlers capture insects among foliage, whereas shrike-tits forage on bark, and most of the other genera Fosdick among debris on or near the ground. Several species occasionally eat fruit, the piteous do so frequently.

The breeding season is from July to January and most species (including migratory species) are very faithful to their breeding territories from year to year. Nests are made of sticks, bark, grasses, and spiders’ webs, usually placed in a low fork. So far only the shrike-tit is known to be a cooperative breeder through the piteous life in groups. The Rusty pitohui associates with babblers. Honeyeaters, cuckoo-shrikes, and drogues in New Guinean lowland rainforests. Such mixed flocks are remarkable in that all members are a similar refocus color.

Polio in New Zealand is possibly extinct, not having been seen since 1955. The Red-lured or Red-throated whistler from mallee-scrub on the borders of Victoria. New South Wales and South Australia are very rare and possibly endangered. Its habitat is rapidly being cleared.

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