Australian Wrens

Maluridae

Nine species of fairy-wrens, three emu-wrens and eleven grasswrens are found in Australia and all are endemic. They are small birds and, generally, the adult males are the brightest coloured. They are generally found on the ground or low down in vegetation. The taxonomy of the grasswrens has undergone much change in recent times, from eight species in 1986, then to ten in 2004 and now at eleven. As currently classified, three subspecies of the Western Grasswren Amytornis textilis and two of the Thick-billed Grasswren A. modestus have been declared extinct.

Blue-breasted Fairy-wren

Malurus pulcherrimus Usually observed low down in foliage or foraging for insects and small arthropods on the ground, alone or in small groups, the Blue-breasted Fairy-wren is easily confused with the Red-winged Fairy-wren M. elegans (south) and the Inland Variegated Fairy-wren M. lamberti assimilis (north), both of which overlap in range with the Blue-breasted Fairy-wren. The male of the...

Dusky Grasswren

Amytornis purnelli An inhabitant of rocky, spinifex-clad ranges (generally in the vicinity of open woodland) of central Australia, this small (15.5 to 18cm) grasswren can be seen bouncing and scurrying, mouse-like, along the ground amongst the spinifex tussocks, stopping to feed on small seeds, fruits and some invertebrates. Cryptically-coloured with dull reddish-brown upperparts and greyish underparts,...

Purple-crowned Fairy-wren

Malurus coronatus There are two subspecies of this specialist inhabitant of dense vegetation along the fringes of permanent rivers. During the breeding season (September to March) the male is striking, with a bright purple crown, bordered below by black and with a black centre patch. The back and wings are brown, the underparts are pale buff to cream and the tail is blue. The purple crown is replaced...

Splendid Fairy-wren

Malurus splendens The male’s breeding plumage is striking, consisting almost entirely of pale and dark blue, although some subspecies have a broad black bands across the breast, at the base of the tail and from the bill to behind the eye. There are four subspecies currently recognised and differ slightly in plumage. The female and non-breeding male are brown above and pale buff below, with a l...

Variegated Fairy-wren

Malurus lamberti The bright blue, purple, chestnut, black and white plumage is found only in the male of this species, females and young birds are brownish to pale blue-grey in colour. The depth and variety of colours in the male varies among the four subspecies, scattered throughout the Australian mainland. The Variegated Fairy-wren is found in a variety of habitats, ranging from heathlands in...

White-winged Fairy-wren

Malurus leucopterus The male is spectacularly coloured, even more so when assessed against the backdrop of reddish soil of the interior. The cobalt blue mixed with white and brown is very distinctive. Females and immatures are less colourful, being predominantly greyish-brown with pale lores, orange-brown bill and a blue wash to the tail. Nob-breeding males resemble the female, but have a black...