An initiative of Earthwatch Institute

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

Splendid Fairy-wren

Malurus splendens


  • 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.


  • 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 compiled distribution map - BirdLife International 

Splendid Fairy Wren compiled distribution map - BirdLife International

Where To Look

Maps of Habitat Suitability


Current probability
of occurrence
2070 probability
of occurrence (RCP 8.5)
Species range change from
current to 2070 probability

Above, the left and middle maps show the modelled habitat suitability for the the species under current and potential future climate conditions. The colours indicate the predicted habitat suitability from low (white) to high (dark red).

The future habitat suitability is modelled for the year 2070 under a climate change scenario that represents 'business as usual' (RCP 8.5). The map on the right shows how the range of the species might change between now and 2070, with orange areas indicating where the species might disappear, green areas where the species range might expand, and blue areas where the habitat is predicted to be suitable for the species now and in the future.

The models for this species were run in the Biodiversity and Climate Change Virtual Laboratory. Please note that while models can be very informative, they are only a representation of the real world and thus should always be viewed with caution. You can read more about the science behind these models here.




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.

  1. Search Species

  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