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Habitat Ecology Information

What’s Lurking In Your Backyard? – #35 Superb Fairy-wren

This series looks at the variety of fauna that may be found in the suburban backyard or local reserve and the diversity may be surprising to some people. The obvious fauna are the vast array of birds that are readily seen by day and some by night, but there are numerous species that are nocturnal. Some of these nocturnal species people are familiar with as they tramp across the roof at night with what sounds like hobnail boots on, or they hear fighting in the backyard over food and territory. Others are cryptic and may only be seen infrequently when they enter the house for warmth and shelter. Each week or so I will highlight a different species that may be found in and around Melbourne’s  backyards, parks and reserves, some may be familiar others less so.

#35 Superb Fairy-wren

(Malurus cyaneus)

This small little wren can often be seen darting in out of the garden shrubs along with its female entourage. During visits to our garden they will often approach quite close if one stays still long enough and they are delight to watch them flit around the garden.

This species of wren has one of the most colourful and contrasting plumage. The rich blue colours of the head, throat and shoulders are contrasted by the black strip through the eyes and throat with the rest of the body being a grey-white colour. This makes them stand out in the garden. This contrasts with the female that is predominately brown with an orange area around the eye.

During visits to our backyard, they can be found flitting through the undergrowth and across the lawn areas searching for food which consists of small insects and arthropods which are primarily caught on the ground although I have seen them take food items on the wing. Feeding is almost always within a small social group which may consist of the dominant male, females and subordinate males that have not yet attained breeding plumage.

The habitat for this species is diverse as long as there is sufficient understory or dense cover of low shrubs, grasses and sedges. They can often be found in urban parks and gardens were their is sufficient cover and limited predation from domestic pets. Their range is from Northern Queensland to Tasmania and the southeastern corner of South Australia.

Habitat Ecology 2021


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