The Superb Fairywren (Malurus cyaneus) is a small long-tailed vivid pale blue and black bird. Also known as the Superb Blue-wren or colloquially as the Blue Wren, is common and familiar across southeastern Australia. The species is sedentary and territorial, and exhibits a high degree of sexual dimorphism; the male in breeding plumage has a striking bright blue forehead, ear coverts, mantle, and tail, with a black mask and black or dark blue throat. Non-breeding males, females and juveniles are predominantly grey-brown in color; this gave the early impression that males were polygamous, as all dull-colored birds were taken for females.
Like other fairywrens, the Superb Fairywren is notable for several peculiar behavioral characteristics; the birds are socially monogamous and sexually promiscuous, meaning that although they form pairs between one male and one female, each partner will mate with other individuals and even assist in raising the young from such pairings. Male wrens pluck yellow petals and display them to females as part of a courtship display.
The Superb Fairywren can be found in almost any area that has at least a little dense undergrowth for shelter, including grasslands with scattered shrubs, moderately thick forest, woodland, heaths, and domestic gardens. It has adapted well to the urban environment and is common in suburban Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. The Superb Fairywren mainly eats insects and supplements its diet with seeds.
The Superb Fairywren is 14 cm (5½ in) long and weighs 8–13 g (0.28–0.46 oz), with males on average slightly larger than females. The average tail length is 5.9 cm (2⅓ in). The bill is relatively long, narrow and pointed and wider at the base. Wider than it is deep, the bill is similar in shape to those of other birds that feed by probing for or picking insects off their environs.
Like other fairywrens, the Superb Fairywren is notable for its marked sexual dimorphism, males adopting a highly visible breeding plumage of brilliant iridescent blue contrasting with black and grey-brown. The brightly colored crown and ear tufts are prominently featured in breeding displays. The breeding male has a bright-blue forehead, ear coverts, mantle and tail, brown wings, and black throat, eye band, breast and bill. Females, immatures, and non-breeding males are a plain fawn color with a lighter underbelly and a fawn (females and immatures) or dull greyish blue (males) tail. The bill is brown in females and juveniles and black in males after their first winter. Immature males moult into breeding plumage the first breeding season after hatching, though incomplete moulting sometimes leaves residual brownish plumage that takes another year or two to perfect. Both sexes moult in autumn after breeding, with males assuming an eclipse non-breeding plumage. They moult again into nuptial plumage in winter or spring. Breeding males’ blue plumage, particularly the ear-coverts, is highly iridescent because of the flattened and twisted surface of the barbules. The blue plumage also reflects ultraviolet light strongly, and so may be even more prominent to other fairywrens, whose color vision extends into this part of the spectrum.
The Superb Fairywren is common throughout most of the relatively wet and fertile south-eastern corner of the continent, from the south-east of South Australia (including Kangaroo Island and Adelaide) and the tip of the Eyre Peninsula, through all of Victoria, Tasmania, coastal and sub-coastal New South Wales and Queensland, through the Brisbane area and extending inland – north to the Dawson River and west to Blackall; it is a common bird in the suburbs of Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. It is found in wooded areas, generally with plenty of undergrowth, and has also adapted to urban existence and can be found in gardens and urban parks as long as there is an undergrowth of native plants nearby. source: wikipedia CC-BY-SA
If you have any views on this, or experiences of your own you’d like to share,
We’d love to hear from you – please leave a comment below.