Splendid Fairy-wren male Chris Tate

Splendid Fairy-wren

Malurus splendens

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
FactBox Image

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.

Distinctive feature

The magnificent blue colour of the male.

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.

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What to Observe

  • Courting/Mating

  • Calling

  • Feeding

  • Bird on chicks

  • Bird on eggs

  • Bird on nest

  • Bird feeding young

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When and Where

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

What Else?

Similar Species

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.