Graeme Chapman - natural history photographer - ornithologist

Australian Birds

Superb Fairy-wren
Malurus cyaneus
(Viewing 4 of 23 photos)

Click to listen to sound samples Simply called "Blue Wrens" by most people, Superb Fairy-wrens are the only fairy-wren to have successfully adapted to suburbia and are now widespread throughout parks and gardens in the cities and towns of temperate eastern Australia. They were one of the first birds to be described from Australia (back in 1782) and now are one of the most well-known, both scientifically and generally. A now classic study of colour-banded birds in Canberra in the 1960s by CSIRO scientist Ian Rowley resulted in a pioneeering paper "The Life History of the Superb Blue-wren". Since that time several more in-depth studies have built on that information and revealed more about this species than probably any other bird in Australia. The entry in HANZAB alone occupies 25 pages!

Female Superb Fairy-wrens have gained some notoriety because of their mating behaviour. Like other fairy-wrens, Superbs live in family groups consisting of an adult male and female together with several "helpers", usually progeny from previous nestings - helpers are usually subordinate males. Despite being virtually surrounded by would-be suitors, the females sneak out soon after dawn, hoping to mate with another male. Studies of individually colour-banded birds have proved that female Superb Fairy-wrens frequently mate with males other than the principal male of a family group, and sometimes even go "next door" to a male from a neighbouring territory.

Photo: 529006

529006 ... Superb Fairy-wren, female.

Photo: 529007

529007 ... Superb Fairy-wren nest and eggs.

Photo: 529010

529010 ... Superb Fairy-wren, male, Canberra, A.C.T.

Photo: 529012

529012 ... Superb Fairy-wren

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