Have you ever seen a bird with a bright blue head and tail? If you live in southeastern Australia, chances are you have encountered the Superb Fairywren, one of the most common and familiar birds in the region. These small and lively birds are known for their long tails, which they often hold upright, and their striking sexual dimorphism, which means that males and females look very different from each other. In this post, we will explore some fascinating facts about the Superb Fairywren, also known as the Superb Blue Wren.
- Breeding plumage: The male Superb Fairywren has a dazzling blue crown, cheek, and back, contrasted with a black mask and throat. He also has a blue tail, which is usually darker than his body. The female, on the other hand, is mostly gray-brown, with a duller blue tail and a reddish bill. She also has a reddish patch between her eye and bill, which distinguishes her from other similar fairywrens. The male changes his plumage depending on the season; in winter, he molts into a more subdued coloration, resembling the female, but retaining his blue tail and black bill1
- Social and sexual behavior: The Superb Fairywren is a social and territorial bird, living in groups of up to 10 individuals. Each group consists of a dominant breeding pair and several helpers, usually their offspring from previous years. The helpers assist the pair in defending the territory, feeding the young, and mobbing predators. However, the Superb Fairywren is also sexually promiscuous, meaning that both the male and female mate with other individuals outside the pair bond. This results in a high rate of extra-pair paternity, where the genetic father of a chick is not the social father. The male Superb Fairywren has a unique courtship display, where he plucks yellow petals and presents them to the female, while singing and dancing2
- Habitat and diet: The Superb Fairywren can be found in a variety of habitats, as long as there is dense undergrowth for shelter and foraging. It inhabits grasslands, woodlands, forests, heaths, and even urban parks and gardens. It is adaptable to human disturbance and can benefit from the creation of edges and clearings. The Superb Fairywren feeds mainly on insects, such as beetles, ants, caterpillars, and spiders. It also eats seeds, fruits, and nectar, especially in winter when insects are scarce. It forages on the ground or in low vegetation, often hopping and flicking its tail3
The Superb Fairywren is a remarkable bird that deserves our admiration and protection. It is not threatened by extinction, but it faces some challenges, such as habitat loss, predation by cats and foxes, and competition from introduced birds. You can help the Superb Fairywren by planting native shrubs in your garden, keeping your pets indoors, and supporting conservation efforts. If you want to learn more about the Superb Fairywren, you can check out these resources: Birds of the World, eBird, and National Parks Association of Queensland.
Tags: superb fairywren, blue wren, malurus cyaneus, australian birds, fairywrens