Species Profile and Threats Database

For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Extinct as Rhipidura fuliginosa cervina
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument] as Rhipidura cervina.
List of Migratory Species (13/07/2000) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000b) [Legislative Instrument] as Rhipidura cervina.
Amendment to the list of threatened species under section 178 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (11/04/2007) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2007f) [Legislative Instrument] as Rhipidura fuliginosa cervina.
List of Migratory Species - Amendment to the list of migratory species under section 209 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (26/11/2013) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2013af) [Legislative Instrument] as Rhipidura cervina.
Non-statutory Listing Status
NGO: Listed as Extinct (The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2010)
Scientific name Rhipidura fuliginosa cervina [67106]
Family Muscicapidae:Passeriformes:Aves:Chordata:Animalia
Species author  
Infraspecies author Ramsay
Other names Rhipidura cervina [25890]
Distribution map Species Distribution Map not available for this taxon.
Illustrations Google Images

New South Wales: At the species level, Rhipidura cervina is listed as Extinct under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995.

Scientific name: Rhipidura fuliginosa cervina

Common name: Grey Fantail (Lord Howe Island)

The Lord Howe Island subspecies of the Grey Fantail, Rhipidura fuliginosa, is a conventionally accepted subspecies (Christidis & Boles 1994; Higgins et al. 2006). There are 12 different subspecies, of which seven occur in Australia (Higgins et al. 2006).

Schodde and Mason (1999) treated the Australian, Norfolk Island and Melanesian forms of the Grey Fantail as one species, R. albiscapa, and those in New Zealand and Lord Howe Island as another species, R. fuliginosa. They assigned the Lord Howe Island birds as a subspecies of the New Zealand species. This treatment has been tentatively followed by Christidis and Boles (2008).

The extinct Grey Fantail (Lord Howe Island) was a small (length: about 15 cm) grey insectivorous bird with pale creamy-yellow underparts and a long dark-grey tail. Its head, neck and upperbody were grey, with a pale creamy-yellow eye-brow, the underparts were pale creamy-yellow, with the throat being slightly paler than the rest of the underparts, the tail was dark brownish-grey with a white tip and, though the tail was long, it was proportionally smaller than the tails of other subspecies in Australia (Schodde & Mason 1999). The wings were grey-brown with two prominent pale wing-bars. The bill was black, the eyes black-brown and the legs and feet were grey-black (Higgins et al. 2006; Hindwood 1940; Schodde & Mason 1999).

The Grey Fantail (Lord Howe Island) was endemic to Lord Howe Island. Other subspecies are widespread in Australia and New Zealand, as well as associated outlying islands, such as Norfolk Island, and the Chatham and Snares Island Groups of New Zealand. The species also occurs on islands in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu in the south-western Pacific Ocean (Higgins et al. 2006; Sibley & Monroe 1990).

The rapid decline and subsequent extinction of the Grey Fantail (Lord Howe Island) was caused by predation by rats (Hindwood 1940; Sharland 1929), but this threatening process is not affecting populations elsewhere in the species' overall range.

The Grey Fantail (Lord Howe Island) was geographically separated from all other subspecies.

There have been a number of ornithological surveys on Lord Howe Island since the 1920s, when the Grey Fantail (Lord Howe Island) is thought to have become extinct (Disney & Smithers 1972; Recher 1974; Recher & Clark 1974); none of which have found evidence of the bird.

The Grey Fantail (Lord Howe Island) was formerly numerous (Sharland 1929) and common (Hutton 1991; McAllan et al. 2004). The subspecies became extinct between 1924 and 1928 (Hindwood 1940; Sharland 1929).

The Grey Fantail (Lord Howe Island) previously occurred in a single population on Lord Howe Island.

The Grey Fantail (Lord Howe Island) inhabited open forests and settled areas (Etheridge 1889; Hull 1909).

There is no information about the use of different habitats for different activities.

Nothing is known of the sexual maturity, life expectancy and natural mortality of the Grey Fantail (Lord Howe Island) (McAllan et al. 2004). Other subspecies are able to breed when one years old, and some have bred 1–2 months after fledging (Powlesland 1982).

The Grey Fantail (Lord Howe Island) bred in spring and early summer (October–December), when it built a wine-glass-shaped nest of decayed wood, fibres from palm fronds and fine grass, bound together with spider webs and lined with fine grass and placed on a horizontal fork or twig between 1 and 5 m above the ground. Two or three glossy, creamy-white eggs with pale brown streaks and spots were laid (Hindwood 1940; Hull 1909; Knox & Walters 1994; McAllan et al. 2004).

The Grey Fantail (Lord Howe Island) fed on insects (Etheridge 1889; Hull 1909).

It caught flying insects by sally-striking in the air (Etheridge 1889; Hull 1909).

Given its endemism, the Grey Fantail (Lord Howe Island) was sedentary (Higgins et al. 2006).

The extinction of the subspecies is considered to have resulted from predation by Black Rats Rattus rattus, which reached Lord Howe Island after fleeing the wreck of the S.S. Makambo in 1918 (Hindwood 1940; Sharland 1929). The Grey Fantail (Lord Howe Island) was said to have been 'practically wiped out' by 1924 (Hindwood 1940) and could not be found in 1928 (Sharland 1929).

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Uncategorised:Uncategorised:threats not specified Rhipidura fuliginosa cervinain Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006wt) [Internet].

Christidis, L. & W.E. Boles (1994). The Taxonomy and Species of Birds of Australia and its Territories. Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union Monograph 2. Melbourne, Victoria: Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union.

Christidis, L. & W.E. Boles (2008). Systematics and Taxonomy of Australian Birds. Collingwood, Victoria: CSIRO Publishing.

Disney, H.J. de S. & C.N. Smithers (1972). The distribution of terrestrial and freshwater birds on Lord Howe Island, in comparison with Norfolk Island. Australian Zoologist. 17:1-11.

Etheridge, R. (1889). The general zoology of Lord Howe Island. Australian Museum Memoirs. 2:3-42.

Garnett, S.T. & G.M. Crowley (2000). The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: Environment Australia and Birds Australia. Available from:

Higgins, P.J., J.M. Peter & S.J. Cowling (2006). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. In: Part A. Boatbill to Larks. Volume 7. Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.

Hindwood, K.A. (1940). The birds of Lord Howe Island. Emu. 40:1-86.

Hull, A.F.B. (1909). The birds of Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales. 34:636-693.

Knox, A.G. & M.P. Walters (1994). Extinct and endangered birds in the collections of The Natural History Museum. Occasional Publication 1. Tring, England: British Ornithologists Club.

McAllan, I.A.W., B.R. Curtis, I. Hutton & R.M. Cooper (2004). The birds of the Lord Howe Island Group: a review of records. Australian Field Ornithology. 21:1-82.

Powlesland, M.H. (1982). A breeding study of the South Island Fantail Rhipidura fuliginosa fuliginosa. Notornis. 29:181-195.

Recher, H.F., ed. (1974). Environmental Survey of Lord Howe Island: A Report to the Lord Howe Island Board. Sydney, NSW: Australian Museum.

Recher, H.F. & S.S. Clark (1974). A biological survey of Lord Howe Island with recommendations for the conservation of the island's wildlife. Biological Conservation. 6:263-273.

Schodde, R. & I.J. Mason (1999). The Directory of Australian Birds: Passerines. Melbourne, Victoria: CSIRO.

Sharland, M.S.R. (1929). Land birds of Lord Howe Island. Emu. 29:5-11.

Sibley, C.G. & B.L. Monroe (1990). Distribution and Taxonomy of the Birds of the World. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press.

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Rhipidura fuliginosa cervina in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: Accessed Fri, 29 Aug 2014 01:15:08 +1000.