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Splendid Fairy-Wren Fact File

Appearance

The male splendid fairy-wren has a spectacular appearance when compared to the much duller female. During the breeding season males have bright blue feathers across much of their body. The feathers on the breast are a violet-blue. Running around the breast and on to the face up to the eye is a black stripe. Another stripe runs across the top of the breast.

Outside of the breeding season males take on the eclipse plumage which is similar to that of the female.

At the end of the body for both males and females is a long tail.

Males have a black bill with the lores and face a plain grey. In females the bill and lores are pale orange-rufous.

Females are much duller in color. Their body is brownish across the upper body and wings with white underneath. Their tail is colored light blue.

Their body measures between 13 and 15cm (5.1-6in) long with a wingspan between 30 and 35cm(12-14in) long. These tiny birds weigh as little as 7.5-11.5g (0.3-0.4oz).

Diet

The splendid fairy wren is an insectivore. They will forage for insects on the ground and in shrubs. Foraging occurs in small groups.

Splendid Fairy Wren

Scientific Name

Malurus splendens

Conservation Status

Least Concern

Weight

7.5-11.5g (0.3-0.4oz)

Length

13-15cm (5.1-6in)

Wingspan

30-35cm (12-14in)

Lifespan

Record

11 years 1 month

Diet

Omnivorous

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Range

Australia is the native home of the splendid fairy wren. Here they can be found in the states of Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and the Northern Territory.

Habitat

Splendid fairy wrens are primarily found in arid and semi arid areas along with acacia woodlands and mallee eucalypt.

Splendid Fairy Wren

Reproduction

In most parts of their range the breeding season lasts from September to December but in parts of their range it can last from August all the way to April.

As part of their courtship display the male may collect pink or purple flower petals which can be used to impress the female.

Males will mate with several females during the breeding season.

The female will create her nest out of dry grass, strips of barks and rootlets in a domed shape. Their nest is so small that the females tail will become bent while they undertake the incubation.

The female takes on full responsibility for incubating the 2-4 eggs during the 15 day incubation period.

Hatchlings will remain in the nest for 11 days. All members of the group will help to feed the chicks.

Chicks tend to remain with their parents and help to raise future broods.

1-2 broods can be produced each year.

Behavior

Across much of their range the splendid fairy-wren is sedentary and will maintain a territory which it defends year round. Some populations are semi-nomadic.

Their vocalization is a high-pitched pip which transitions to an undulating call.

When they move around they can either fly or hop using a series of jaunty bounces.

Splendid Fairy Wren

Predators and Threats

Introduced species such as the cat and red fox prey on them.

Humans are affecting their population through habitat clearing. Vehicle strikes are also a threat.

Quick facts

Their scientific name comes Malurus from the Greek world malacos meaning soft and oura meaning tail. Splendens come from the Latin word for shining.

Splendid Fairy Wren

Photo Credits

Top

By Alexey Krasavin from Moscow, Russia – Regular Blue Wren Male, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3534129

Middle One

By Arthur Chapman – originally posted to Flickr as Malurus splendens race melanotus (Superb Fairy-wren), CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5196520

Middle Two

By JJ Harrison (https://www.jjharrison.com.au/) – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=86319554

Bottom

By Aviceda – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4306098

References

Christiansen, P., 2019. Birds. London: Amber Books Ltd.

Morcombe, M., 2003. Field Guide To Australian Birds. Archerfield, Qld.: Steve Parish Pub.

Birdlife.org.au. 2021. Splendid Fairy-wren | BirdLife Australia. [online] Available at: <https://birdlife.org.au/bird-profile/splendid-fairy-wren> [Accessed 16 February 2021].

Marsh, P., 2021. Splendid Fairy-wren. [online] The Australian Museum. Available at: <https://australian.museum/learn/animals/birds/splendid-fairy-wren/> [Accessed 16 February 2021].

Fairywrenproject.org. 2021. Meet the Fairywrens – The Fairywren Project. [online] Available at: <https://fairywrenproject.org/meet-the-fairywrens/#SPFW_highlink> [Accessed 16 February 2021].

Friendsofqueensparkbushland.org.au. 2021. Splendid Fairy-wren | Friends of Queens Park Bushland. [online] Available at: <https://www.friendsofqueensparkbushland.org.au/splendid-fairy-wren/> [Accessed 16 February 2021].

Parksaustralia.gov.au. 2021. Splendid Fairy Wren. [online] Available at: <https://parksaustralia.gov.au/uluru/do/birdwatching/splendid-fairy-wren/> [Accessed 16 February 2021].

BirdLife International. 2016. Malurus splendens. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22703740A93934738. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22703740A93934738.en. Downloaded on 15 February 2021.

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