Graeme Chapman - natural history photographer - ornithologist

Australian Birds

Sandstone Fairy-wren
Malurus lamberti rogersi/dulcis
(Viewing 2 of 2 photos)

The two northern subspecies of the Variegated Fairy-wren, 'rogersi' from the Kimberleys in W.A. and 'dulcis' from Arnhemland in the N.T. were once regarded as forms of the Lovely Fairy-wren from Cape York on the basis of their blue females. However, in recent times it has been established that a broad band of birds exist just to the south of these two regions in which the females are variably less and less blue, forming an intermediate zone between northern forms where females (and young males) are quite blue (see pic 537206) and the typical inland subspecies 'assimilis' in which they are brown.

Because both these distinct subspecies inhabit relatively remote rugged sandstone country of the far north, few people have seen them. I have yet to take a picture of the form 'dulcis' from the N.T in which the females have white lores and most resemble Lovely Fairy-wrens. According to the excellent Handbook of Western Australian Birds, 'rogersi' from the Kimberleys breeds in the wet season through to about June, not a time when these northern regions are easy of access. In the dry season when these birds will have forsaken their breeding sites and move around the countryside, not only are the males moulting into winter plumage, fairy-wrens in general become quite shy and more difficult to approach.

Photo: 537206

537206 ... Malurus lamberti rogersi, immature male (black bill and dark lores) Mitchell Plateau W.A.

Photo: 537210

537210 ... Malurus lamberti rogersi, adult male, Mt Barnett Station, Kimberley Division, W.A.

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