Southern emuwren

Stipiturus malachurus

TAXONOMY

Stipiturus malachurus Shaw, 1798, Sydney and Botany Bay, New South Wales, Australia. Eight subspecies.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Queue-de-gaze du Sud; German: Rotstirn-Bortenschwanz; Spanish: Ratona Emu Sureña.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

6.2-7 in (15.7-17.8 cm); female 0.26-0.29 oz (7.4-8.3 g), male 0.19-0.32 oz (5.5-9 g). Males in breeding plumage have blue throat and breast that females, nonbreeding males, and immatures lack.

DISTRIBUTION

Disjunct populations along coast from western Australia to southern Queensland. S. m. malachurus: from Queensland to Victoria; S. m. littleri: confined to Tasmania and islands; S. m. polionotum: from Victoria and south Australia; S. m. intermedius, S. m. halmaturnius, S. m. parimedia: local distribution in south Australia; S. m. westernensis: in southwestern Western Australia; and S. m. hartogi: found on Dirk Hartog Island, Shark Bay, Western Australia.

HABITAT

Occurs in swamps, dunes, and coastal and high-altitude heath-lands. Prefers low, dense vegetation.

BEHAVIOR

Usually found in small groups; secretive; weak flier and difficult to flush. Social organization poorly known.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Feeding ecology poorly known, but thought to be largely insectivorous, gleaning invertebrates from dense vegetation and ground. Will split open stems to get at insects; occasionally hawks flying insects.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Monogamous pairs hold breeding territory; female builds nest but fed by male. Clutch is 2-4 red-spotted eggs. Nest parasitized by several cuckoo species. Incubation mostly by female for 13-14 days; fledging in 11-15 days.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened as a species but adversely affected by drainage of swamps and clearing for agriculture. Altered fire regimes also a threat.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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