Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Superb Fairy-wren

The Superb Fairy-wren is the most widespread of the ten species of fairy-wren found in Australia. Their range extends along the south eastern coast of Australia from Brisbane to Adelaide. It was once an abundant species and was once common in urban areas. More images and info inside.

The Superb Fairy-wren males defend a territory of between 0.5 and 2 ha. They live in family groups with the young of the previous years remaining in their parents' territory and contributing to the care of the younger siblings. During the non-breeding period the males moult into brown plumage similar to the females except for the tail which remains blue. The males also have a black beak while females and juveniles have chestnut coloured beaks.

Fairy-wrens have been described as the "least faithful birds in the world" because DNA fingerprinting has revealed that more than three quarter of the young within a "family" group are sired by males form outside the group. Females prefer "high quality" males and therefore, 4% of the males in an area sire 50% of the offspring. The attribute of the male Superb Fairy-wrens most related to their attractiveness to females is the duration they hold their bright blue breeding plumage. Older males are more attractive than younger males. Some "top quality" males moult directly from breeding plumage to breeding plumage.

I spent a fair amount of time trying to photograph these birds. They move around a lot in the undergrowth and therefore it is pretty hard to actually lock focus on them. To get a crisp image of them a relatively fast shutter speed has to be used. I could have increased the ISO but I wanted to produce images which had minimal noise. I guess using a hide would have been an option but I never had a hide or a substitute for one available.

The last two images show the actual colour of the Superb Fairy-wrens breast. It is a very dark blue but is often mistaken for being black.

I will update this post with images of a female Superb fairy-wren when I actually capture one!
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holdingmoments said...

Superb indeed Dev.
A real handsome fellow. Interesting information too.

Little Brown Job said...

Great shots, love that stunning electric blue colour!

Chris said...

Wow Dev, what a magnificent bird!!! I guess you were happy to spot and to get a beautiful picture of it! This is definitively a bird to see! Well done mate! I wish we would have so colorful warbler around here.

Dev Wijewardane said...

Thanks for the comments.

Keith, yes I didn't know that this little fellow was known as one of the worlds least faithful birds!

Little Brown Job, I love the blue too!

Chris, I was pretty happy that i finally managed to get shots I like. It wasn't easy!

Texas Travelers said...

Great photography. I really like your site.

Thanks for the visit and nice comment.

Come visit anytime,

S.C.E. said...

Nice shot! I lived in North Queensland back in the mid 90's but didn't see this species alas.......

Dev Wijewardane said...


Thanks for the comment. I'll definitely visit again.


Thanks for the comment. I think the range for these birds is south of Brisbane. I'm sure you would have seen some fantastic birds up in the tropics though...

joshi daniel said...

nice image with very good colors!

Dev Wijewardane said...

Thanks Joshi

Whewell said...

Was searching for these today at Perc White reserve and along the shrubs along the shore, looking for the blue but suspect the male would only have a blue tail this time of year - will try again next weekend.