Australasian WrensDusky Grasswren Purple-backed Fairywren Red-backed Fairywren Southern Emu-wren Splendid Fairy-wren Superb Fairywren Variegated Fairywren White-winged Fairywren

The spectacular brilliant blue Splendid Fairy-wren (Malurus splendens) is found mainly in semi-arid and arid regions of Australia. The brilliant blue colouration of this small bird is the breeding plumage of the male of the species.

Splendid Fairy-wren (Malurus splendens)
Splendid Fairy-wren (Malurus splendens) at Owen Springs, Central Australia © CK Leel

The non-breeding males, juveniles and females of the species are predominantly grey, brown upper and buff to white underneath. The males display a blue wash on their wings and tail, whilst the female a pale red line running from beak to eye. The splendid fairy-wren has a long tail and grows to about 13 cm.

The birds mainly forage on the ground and in shrubs, usually foraging in groups. They eat mainly insects.

  • Common name:
    • Splendid Fairy-wren are also referred to as fairywrens.
  • Pitjantjatjara/Yankunytjatjara name:
    • mirilyirilyi
Splendid in eclipse (Malurus splendens), Midwest WA © Gary Taylor
Splendid in eclipse (Malurus splendens), Midwest WA © Gary Taylor

But during the breeding season (September–December), the male grows magnificent cobalt-blue plumage with a sky-blue crown and cheeks. He will start to pluck pink or purple petals to impress females as part of his courtship display.

These active birds eat mostly insects, moving around with a series of jaunty bounces. They are usually seen together in family groups.

Splendid Fairy-wren (Malurus splendens)
Splendid Fairy-wren (Malurus splendens), Central Australia
Splendid Fairy-wren (Malurus splendens)
Splendid Fairy-wren (Malurus splendens), Central Australia

  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Maluridae
  • Genus: Malurus
  • Species: Malurus splendens

Footnote & References

  1. Feature image at top and in page © Dorothy Latimer
  2. Phototgraphs © CK Leel
  3. Photograph: Splendid in eclipse (Malurus cyaneus) © Gary Taylor

Australasian WrensDusky Grasswren Purple-backed Fairywren Red-backed Fairywren Southern Emu-wren Splendid Fairy-wren Superb Fairywren Variegated Fairywren White-winged Fairywren