Tag Archives: Rhipiduridae

Rhipidura cervina Ramsay

Lord Howe Fantail (Rhipidura cervina)

The Lord Howe Fantail, also known as Fawn-breasted Fantail, was endemic to Lord Howe Island; it is sometimes treated as a subspecies of the New Zealand fantail (Rhipidura fuliginosa (Sparrman)).

The species was formerly very plentiful and widespread on its island home.

We obtained the really elegant Rhipidura cervina, Ramsay, another species peculiar to Lord Howe. It is a delicate bird, frequenting any open glades where insects can be taken on the wing.” [1]

Nearly all of the endemic or native birds that formerly inhabited Lord Howe Island disappeared shortly after 1918, when the steamship ‘SS Makambo’ ran aground on Ned’s Beach in the northern part of the island and Black Rats (Rattus rattus (L.)) from the wreck came ashore.

The species was apparently last seen in 1924.


syn. Rhipidura fuliginosa ssp. cervina Ramsay, Rhipidura macgillivrayi Sharpe


lower bird

Depiction from: ‘Gregory M. Mathews: The birds of Norfolk & Lord Howe Islands and the Australasian South Polar quadrant: with additions to “birds of Australia”. London: H. F. & G. Witherby 1928’

(public domain)



[1] Robert Etheridge: The general zoology of Lord Howe Island; containing also an account of the collections made by the Australian Museum Collecting Party, Aug.-Sept., 1887. Australian Museum Memoir 2(1): 1-42. 1889


edited: 27.02.2024

Rhipidura rufifrons ssp. uraniae Oustalet

Guam Rufous Fantail (Rhipidura rufifrons ssp. uraniae)

The Guam Rufous Fantail is one of the victims of the Brown Tree Snake (Boiga irregularis (Merrem in Bechstein)), a snake species that was introduced to Guam probably sometimes during the 1940s resulting in the devastating loss of nearly all native bird species.

Like so many other bird species from guam, this one was last seen during the 1985s, it is now extinct.


The Rufous Fantail (Rhipidura rufifrons (Latham)), if treated as a single species, occurs from eastern Australia to New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and parts of Micronesia; however, this species is a candidate for splitting, which would lead to the Guam Rufous Fantail being treated as a distinct, monotypic species, while the other two remaining subspecies found in the Mariana Islands today (the one from Saipan Island is depicted below) would be regarded to as another, closely related one.


The name that the Chamorro, the native inhabitans of the Mariana Islands, gave this bird is Chichirika, this name is now apparently used for the Eurasian Tree Sparow (Passer montanus (L.)), a species that was imported to the Mariana Islands.


Saipan Rufous Fantail (Rhipidura rufifrons ssp. saipanensis Hartert)

Photo: Peter

(under creative commons license (2.0))


edited: 30.10.2020

Rhipidura sp. ‘Nauru’

Nauru Fantail (Rhipidura sp.)

The Nauru Reed-Warbler (Acrocephalus rehsei (Finsch)) is the sole passerine bird that is known to inhabit the somewhat isolated island of Nauru in Micronesia; however, this does not seem to have always been the case ss a contemporary report from the earliest 20th century seems to prove.:

Die Vogelwelt ist nach Zahl und Art reicher. Der Fregattvogel (Tachypetes aquila), itsi, die schwarze Seeschwalbe (Anous), doror, die weiße Seeschwalbe (Gygis), dagiagia, werden als Haustiere gehalten; der erste galt früher als heiliger Vogel, mit den beiden anderen werden Kampfspiele veranstaltet. Am Strande trifft man den Steinwälzer (Strepsilas interpres), dagiduba, den Regenpfeifer (Numenius), den Uferläufer (Tringoides), ibibito, die Schnepfe, ikirer, den Brachvogel ikiuoi, den Strandreiter iuji, die Ralle, earero bauo und zwei Möwenarten (Sterna), igogora und ederakui. Im Busche beobachtet man an den Blüten der Kokospalme den kleinen Honigsauger raigide, die Rohrdrossel (Calamoherpe syrinx), itirir und den Fliegenschnäpper (Rhipidura), temarubi.” [1]  


The bird world is richer by number and species, the frigate bird (Tachypetes aquila), itsi, the black tern (Anous), doror, the white tern (Gygis), dagiagia, are kept as pets; the first one was formerly considered a holy bird, with the two others are used for fighting games. At the beach one mets with the turnstone (Strepsilas interpres), dagiduba, the plover (Numenius), the sandpiper (Tringoides), ibibito, the snipe, ikirer, the curlew, ikiuoi, the beach rider [?] iuji, the rail, earero bauo and two gull species (Sterna), igogora and ederakui. In the bush one observes on the flowers of the coconut palm the small honeyeater raigide, the reed thrush (Calamoherpe syrinx), itirir and the flycatcher (Rhipidura), temarubi.


Nauru once had very rich phosphate deposits, which were thoughtlessly mined without any foresight, leading to the nearly complete deforestation of the island and to national bankruptcy.

The avifauna of the island was apparently never properly researched and is thought to have always only included two species, the widespread Micronesian Imperial Pigeon (Ducula oceanica (Desmarest)) and the endemic Nauru Reed Warbler. However, as the above-mentioned account is pointing out, there once also was a fantail form inhabiting the island which, for geographical reasons, very likely was a distinct species. 



[1] Paul Hambruch: Nauru. Ergebnisse der Südsee-Expedition 1908-1910. II. Ethnographie: B. Mikronesien, band 1.1 Halbband. Hamburg, Friedrichsen 1914


edited: 10.11.2020