Splendid fairywren

Malurus splendens

TAXONOMY

Malurus splendens Quoy and Gaimard, 1830, King George Sound, Western Australia. Four subspecies.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Splendid wren; French: Mérion splendide; German: Türkisstaffelschwanz; Spanish: Ratona Australiana Franjeada.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

5.5 in (14 cm); female 0.27-0.36 oz (7.6-10.2 g), male 0.28-0.39 oz (7.9-11.1 g). Male in breeding plumage is brilliant blue with turquoise cheek patches and crown, black breast, face, and back markings. Nonbreeding males, females, and immatures drab olive above with blue tails and wings.

DISTRIBUTION

Populations scattered across Australia: M. s. splendens in the west, M. s. musgravi in the interior, M. s. emmottorum in Queensland, and M. s. melanotus in the east.

Malurus splendens I Resident

Malurus cyaneus H Resident

HABITAT

Mostly drier acacia woodlands and scrublands, including mulga, mallee, and saltbrush.

BEHAVIOR

Stronger fliers than most fairy-wrens, and more versatile foragers, often foraging in the canopy. A territorial, cooperative breeder, usually found in small groups that defend their territory. Voice a loud series of trills.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Insectivorous, mostly gleaning ants, grasshoppers, spiders, and insect larvae from the ground, litter, and foliage up to canopy height; also hop-search and pounce on prey, and may hawk flying insects.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Socially monogamous, but promiscuous, with males wandering into adjacent territories and often fathering less than half of the offspring from their own territory. Clutch is two to four red-spotted, white eggs. Female incubates for about two weeks, and fledging occurs in 10-13 days.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened but adversely affected by habitat destruction for agriculture and overgrazing.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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