Family Maluridae

Fairy-wrens are small insectivorous birds with raised tails. The breeding plumage of males is generally an iridescent blue. Females and out of breeding plumage males are often prevailingly brown. They live in matriarchal family groups, with a single female, one dominant male, and often several out-of-breeding males, which assist in raising the young. The female drives off other females, including her own offspring. There is only one local species, the Superb Fairy-wren, which is common in Canberra Nature Park and has adapted well to Canberra’s parks and gardens. The family groups living on Black Mountain and in the Australian National Botanic Gardens have been studied intensively over the years.


Superb Fairy-wren

Malurus cyaneus

Superb Fairy-wrens are quite sedentary, preferring dense vegetation alongside open spaces to provide both shelter and food.

Numbers recorded are quite stable from February to June, declining steadily to November. From 1981 to 2007 numbers increased threefold, probably due to the development of more gardens with suitable understorey.  While numbers reported varied from year to year from 1981 to 1999, there has been stable steady growth in numbers reported from 2000 to 2007.

Superb Fairy-wrens build nests of grass concealed in dense bushes, but they still are predated by cats and Pied Currawongs. Nest building begins in late July and by November most nesting activity is generally completed. Dependent young have been recorded from late September to early April, some of which may be from second broods. R=26. BR=21.