Graeme Chapman - natural history photographer - ornithologist

Australian Birds

Rufous-crowned Emu-wren
Stipiturus ruficeps
(Viewing 4 of 6 photos)

Click to listen to sound sample The Rufous-crowned Emu-wren is the smallest bird in Australia, by weight, averaging around 5 grams; I've heard they can even pass through a No.1 mist net. Ideal habitat is composed of broad expanses of dense spinifex interspersed with a variety of shrub species such as Acacia, Cassia, Thryptomene and occasional emergent taller shrubs/trees such as Mulga. Pictures 528205 from N of Boulia and 528206 from the Gibson Desert are good examples. Notice the healthy growth of the spinifex in these two pics - plenty of places to nest, to hide, to feed and probably to roost. Conversely, the structure of spinifex that has been recently burnt, or is dormant because of drought is quite unsuitable for everyday living by these birds and during such periods, their populations probably decline severely.

Rufous-crowned Emu-wrens are closely related to Mallee Emu-wrens (some claim they are only subspecies). They appear to live in permanent territories either in pairs or family groups, but whether the younger birds of a group act as helpers at the nest (such as in fairy-wrens) is not known. They are widespread in the spinifex grasslands of arid Australia and some good areas to look for them include near Lark Quarry or in Bladensburg N.P. (both near Winton, Qld) various sites around Alice Springs, near Millstream in W.A. and where I photographed the female near the sand pits a few km north of the town at Exmouth in W.A.

Photo: 528201

528201 ... Rufous-crowned Emu-wren, male, Lark Quarry Qld. See TOP SHOT # 027.

Photo: 528202

528202 ... Rufous-crowned Emu-wren, male

Photo: 528203

528203 ... Rufous-crowned Emu-Wren, female, Exmouth, W.A.

Photo: 528204

528204 ... Rufous-crowned Emu-wren, male

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