Splendid Fairy-wren

Did you know?

The nest is so small that the female's long tail is bent during incubation.

Calls
A rapid series of slightly metallic, high-pitched pips that blend into an "undulating" call.
Facts and Figures
Research Species: 
No
Minimum Size: 
12cm
Maximum Size: 
14cm
Average size: 
13cm
Average weight: 
9g
Breeding season: 
mostly September-December, but can extend from August to April
Clutch Size: 
2 to 4, mostly 3
Incubation: 
15 days
Nestling Period: 
11 days
Conservation Status
Federal: 
NSW: 
NT: 
QLD: 
SA: 
VIC: 
WA: 
Basic Information
Scientific Name: 
Featured bird groups: 
Atlas Number: 
532
What does it look like?
Description: 

The breeding plumage of the male is predominantly blue, varying from cobalt-blue in the east of its range to violet-blue in the west.It has black bands at the base of the tail (absent in the violet-blue birds), across the breast and from the beak, through the eyes to join a band across the back of its neck. Its crown and cheek patches are paler blue. Wings and long tail are brown with a blue wash. His beak is black and his legs and feet are brown-grey. In non-breeding plumage, called eclipse, he is very similar to the female, being pale brown above and buff to white underneath although he retains the blue wash on wings and tail. The female does not have the blue wash on her wings, but does have a reddish-tan line from beak to eye that extends into a ring around her eye. Her beak is reddish-tan.

Similar species: 

The male in breeding plumage is quite distinct but in eclipse he is similar to the males of other fairy-wrens in eclipse. A faint wash of blue on male wings during eclipse distinguishes this species from others. The female is similar to females of other fairy-wren species, but has a bluer tail than most.

Where does it live?
Distribution: 

These birds are widely distributed across Australia in two areas. One area is from about Shark Bay south through WA, through SA except the coast to about the Flinders Ranges and the southern and central parts of NT. The eastern area include SA from the Flinders Ranges, the far north-western tip of Vic, NSW east to about Moree and Balranald and south central Qld.

Habitat: 

These birds live in arid to semi-arid areas, in mostly dense shrublands or woodlands of acacia, and mallee eucalypt with dense shrubs.

Seasonal movements: 

These birds are mostly sedentary, defending a territory all year, but the younger females may disperse to another territory. In some areas they are semi-nomadic, depending on local conditions.

What does it do?
Feeding: 

Like most of the fairy-wrens, Splendid Fairy-wrens eat mostly insects and forage on both the ground and in shrubs. They live in groups which forage together.

Breeding: 

The Splendid Fairy-wren female builds an oval domed nest of dry grass, strips of bark and rootlets, with an entrance two thirds of the way up one side. The female is the only member of the group to incubate the eggs, but all members of the group feed the chicks.

Living with us

As with so many species, clearing of habitat is a major negative impact for the Splendid Fairy-wren. Cats and foxes also prey on them and they are often hit by vehicles as they are not strong fliers.

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