The Variegated Fairywren (Malurus lamberti) is a sexual dimorphic species with the breeding male easily identified from the female and juveniles. The crown and the sides of the head of the breeding male is blue, with a rich chestnut shoulders.

The non-breeding males, females and juveniles have grey-brown plumage, although females of two subspecies in the Northern Territory and Western Australia have blue-grey plumage.

The Variegated Fairywren (Malurus lamberti) is described in some sources as living in eastern Australia. They are however, widespread in arid and semi-arid zones, as well as being recorded in tropical, sub-tropical and temperate regions, where it inhabits a wide variety of dense thickets.

The Variegated Fairywren (sometimes spelt as Variegated Fairy-wren) is one of four very similar species (often described as sub-species) and known collectively as chestnut-shouldered fairywrens. The variety and depth of colours in the male varies among the four subspecies, distributed across the Australian mainland. The other subspecies are known as the Lovely Fairywren, Red-winged Fairywren, and the Blue-breasted Fairywren.

Variegated Fairywren are a cooperative breeding species, where small groups of birds will maintain and defend their territory. The group consist of a socially monogamous pair with several helper birds who also assist in raising the young.

Primarily insectivorous, they will also eat small amounts of seeds. They forage and live in the shelter of scrubby vegetation, in forest, woodland and shrub type habitats. Often can be seen feeding around the base of shrubs, foraging among bark, foliage and leaf litter on the ground.

  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Maluridae
  • Genus: Malurus
  • Species: M. lamberti
  • Binomial name: Malurus lamberti

Footnote & References

  1. Variegated Fairywren, eBird,
  2. Variegated Fairy-wren, Australian Museum,
  3. Variegated fairywren, (last visited Nov. 2, 2021)
  4. Variegated Fairy-wren, BirdLife Australia,