Graeme Chapman - natural history photographer - ornithologist

Australian Birds

Sandstone Fairy-wren
Malurus dulcis
(Viewing 4 of 4 photos)

Known in the past as Lavender-flanked Fairy-wren after a rather obscure feature of the breeding males, recent research has suggested that it be classified simply as a subspecies of the widespread Purple-backed Fairy-wren, Malurus assimilis. I treat them as a full species - time will tell. Breeding male Sandstone Fairy-wrens from the sandstone country are barely discernible from those in the surrounding lowlands further afield, but the blue plumage and white lores of the females and the blue winter males and immatures are distinctive to say the least. There don't appear to be any records of such white-lored females outside the sandstone plateaus.

Blue plumage in female fairy-wrens has developed in three places in tropical northern Australia - Cape York (the Lovely Fairy-wren, M amabilis), Arnhemland, M.dulcis and in the Kimberley Division of W.A., another sandstone specialist, M.assimilis rogersi. The reasons and possible causes of this blue plumage is the subject of some ongoing research.

Photo: 537501-D

537501-D ... Malurus dulcis female showing white lores (photo courtesy of Martin Cake.) Note the large bill.

Photo: 537502-D

537502-D ... Malurus dulcis, young or winter male with black bill (photo courtesy of Martin Cake)

Photo: 537503-D

537503-D ... Malurus dulcis, winter male with dark lores (photo courtesy of Martin Cake)

Photo: 537504-D

537504-D ... Restricted to the sandstone plateaus of Arnhemland.

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