Nest desertion by Grey Fantails during nest building in response to perceived predation risk

Reut Berger-Tal, Oded Berger-Tal, Kat Munro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Grey Fantails (Rhipidura albiscapa), a common Australian flycatcher, commonly desert their nests before egg-laying. We tested the hypothesis that Grey Fantails desert incomplete nests in response to the attention of predators by placing a mounted Pied Currawong (Strepera graculina), a common nest predator, near fantail nests that were under construction. As a control, we placed a mounted King Parrot (Alisteris scapularis), a nonpredatory bird similar in size to Pied Currawongs, near other fantail nests. Four of six female fantails (67%) deserted incomplete nests in response to the presentation of the Pied Currawong. In contrast, none of the seven females presented with a mounted King Parrot deserted. Female Grey Fantails may use the attention of a predator at the nest during the building stage as a cue to desert. Such desertion may be adaptive for Grey Fantails because currawongs are large predators, making successful nest defense unlikely, and they also present considerable risk to adults. In addition, fantails may raise multiple broods during a breeding season and, therefore, have a high renesting potential.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-154
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Field Ornithology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2010


  • Antipredatory
  • Calling
  • Nest building
  • Nest desertion
  • Rhipidura albiscapa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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