Superb Fairy Wrens in decline?

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timrob's picture
Superb Fairy Wrens in decline?

A question about Superb Fairy Wrens.... are they in decline around Brisbane?  Certainly, a not-very-scientific review of our most recent birding lists and observations suggests that they may be, and that Red-Backed and Vareigated are on the increase, Red-Backed in particular. 

Some of our favourite haunts seem to have far fewer Superb families and far more Red-Backed families than we have seen in the past.

Perhaps it is the very dry and hot summer we have had so far?

Any clues, comments and observations most welcome.


Tim and Marg Roberts

Holly's picture

Tim I wish I had an easy answer - we don't really know. I would suspect they are in some decline (the most recent Atlas data suggested they were stable overall). Varigateds on the increase would surprise me though, they are so relient on dense veg and much more specific in their habitat requirements than Superbs or Red-backs.

Woko's picture

In Adelaide it would be great to have some to be in decline! Alas, the city seems to be a superb fairy-wren free zone.

matt's picture

There are plenty of Superbs here and this year I have Veriegateds coming upto the house as well as the Superbs. I have noticed with variegated the males stay hang around together as there has been 4 males and only a couple of females at one time.


Araminta's picture

At my place ,east of Melbourne, last year there were Superbs everywhere. All of them breeding several times and producing countless juveniles. This year most of them have moved into the bush behind us, or elsewhere. There are some breeding though and I have noticed some young, not as many as last year.

Same with the Yellow Robins. This time last year I stopped taking photos of Y Robins, every time I turned around they were there.I had to make sure not to step on them. This year, only a few.

I'm beginning to think birds often change location from one season to the next. Hope they'll come back next year.To me it makes sense, they can't stay in the same area, they have to find their own territory and food sources.


schulzzz's picture

A late contribution.    

In my travels in north-central Victoria this, no, last year i've noted Superb Fairy Wrens almost everywhere. it's graet! At my place near Shepparton there were none 10 years ago but i can see 3 or 4 out the window right now and there's hardly a Sat morning that they don't share my garden breakfast (insects for them, coffee for me).  My two bobs worth is that they're increasing rather than declining around here.

Near Pyramid Hill on 8th Nov i spotted a group of White-winged Fairy Wrens sharing a channel bank with the Superbs.  The White-wing breeding male was spectacular!  Made the Superb look shabby.

Woko's picture

Any ideas on why the increase in superb fairy-wren numbers in your neck of the environment, shulzzz? (Those male white-winged fairy wrens in full regalia are something, aren't they?!)

schulzzz's picture

Hello again Woko.  Speculating re increases in Fairy Wren numbers: there has been a reduction in the intensity of agriculture over the last couple decades (due to economic & drought pressures) and a possibly coincidental increase in the amount of scrubby regrowth (due to the same reasons plus revegetation choices & .....).  Increased habitat is therefore a possible explanation.  I can't imagine that predation and accidental deaths have decreased (i was horrified when three fledglings drowned in my goat's water trough some years ago).  My two acres fit this pattern; 20 years ago there were a few trees but practically no shrubs, now there is a plethora of nesting options. 

Spent some hours in the local bush today and Superb Fairy Wrens were again a dominant species at all three sites visited.  Little else of interest except a couple White-browed Scrubwrens (admittedly there were other flitting blurs i couldn't ID).  Did spot some Mistletoe birds and Red-browed Firetails in a friends vege patch late in the evening, so it seems life is currently sweet for small bird (also seems i should take a bottle of wine to my friends more often).

Woko's picture

It's a shame that when the economy booms  the environment suffers. I'm not sure how long that connection will last because, ultimately, the economy depends on the environment. Nevertheless, the increase in shrubs would help to explain the increase in superb fairy-wren numbers.

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