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  1. 112 Male photo by Chris Tate
  2. 112_0 Male in eclipse photo by Chris Tate

Splendid Fairy-wren

Malurus splendens

Appearance

  • Colour: The male is unmistakable in full breeding varying from cobalt-blue in the east of its range to violet-blue in the west with a pale blue head. Wings and long tail are brown with a blue wash. In non-breeding plumage, called eclipse, he is very similar to the female, being pale brown above and white underneath although he retains the blue wash on wings and tail. The young look like the females. 
  • Size: 14 cm.

Behaviour

  • Call: A rapid series of slightly metallic, high-pitched pips that blend into an "undulating" call.
  • Diet: Mostly insects and other small invertebrates. They live in groups which forage together on the ground and in shrubs.
  • Flight: A series of jaunty hops and bounces.
  • Breeding: The female builds an oval domed nest usually near the ground in thick cover. Materials include grass, bark spider webs and down. The female is the only member of the group to incubate the eggs, but all members of the group feed the chicks. The female lays 2-4 white eggs speckled reddish brown.  The female incubates the eggs for 14-15 days.  After hatching the nestlings are fed by the group for 10 -13 days.

What to Observe

  • Courting/mating
  • Calling
  • Feeding
  • Bird on chicks
  • Bird on eggs
  • Bird on nest
  • Bird feeding young

ClimateWatch Science Advisor

We expect birds to start breeding and singing earlier in the year as a result of climate change warming the Earth. They may also start appearing in new areas as warmer temperatures enable them to live in environments that were previously too cold for them.

When To Look

 

  • August through to January. 
  • Breeding mostly in September-December, but can extend from August to April. 
  • Heavy August rain can delay breeding.

Where To Look

  •  Widely distributed across Australia in two areas. The western area is from Shark Bay south through WA, through SA except the coast to the Flinders Ranges and the southern and central parts of NT. The eastern area includes SA from the Flinders Ranges, the far north-western tip of Victoria, NSW east to Moree and Balranald and south central Queensland.
  • Arid to semi-arid areas, in mostly dense shrublands or woodlands of acacia, and mallee eucalypt with dense shrubs.
  • Around Perth: Gleneagle rest area, Wungong gorge, Thomsons Lake, Forrestdale lake, Bibra Lake, Gnangara Lake, John Forrest NP, Piesse Gully
  • Look in clearings in forest and woodland, vegetation along creeks, parks and large gardens

Splendid Fairy Wren occurence - ALA

References

 

Higgins, P.J. and J.M. Peter (eds) 2002. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds, Volume 6: Pardalotes to Shrike-thrushes. Oxford University Press, Melbourne. 

 

Nevill, S. J. 2008. Birds of the Greater South West. Simon Nevill Publications, Perth, Western Australia.

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  1. What Else?

    During breeding the male is distinct but, in eclipse, the faint wash of blue is the only thing that distinguishes this species from other fairy wrens.

  1. Did You Know?

     

    Males perform a sea horse pattern flight during courtship

     

    The nest is so small that the female's long tail is bent during incubation.

  1. Listen to the Call

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