Variegated Fairy-wren, Malurus lamberti

The Variegated Fairy-wren (Malurus lamberti) lives in diverse habitats spread across 90% of continental Australia, which is a wider range than that of any other fairy-wren. Fairy-wrens were initially thought to be a member of the old world flycatcher family or warbler family. And like other fairy-wrens, the Variegated Fairy-wren is unrelated to the true wrens. There are four subspecies of the Variegated Fairy-wren recognized which have varying characteristics, colors, and habitats. The species generally takes shelter in scrubland with dense cover, or in mammal burrows, to avoid high temperatures.

As part of a courtship ritual, the male Variegated Fairy-wrens have been seen carrying brightly colored petals to females. All fairy-wrens show this unusual behavior and with this species, the petals that have been seen presented to the females have been yellow. The Variegated Fairy-wren works together as a cooperative breeding either in pairs or within small groups. Females, males and helper birds feed and rear the young, while other helper birds defend the territory against predators.

The Variegated Fairy-wren is 5.5″“6 in. long and weighs 0.21″“0.38 oz.
Their basic song tone is high in pitch followed by a series of rudiments of 10-20 per second. The entire song lasts 1-4 seconds. They also use a call with a tsst or seee tone, while the sharp and short tsit sound serves as the alarm so they may defend their territory. The reel of this bird is considered the softest amongst fairy-wrens.

The Variegated Fairy-wren, like all fairy-wrens, is an active feeder on open ground near shelter. These birds primarily eat insects which are easy to catch while living in the shelter of ample vegetation. Consisting of bouncy jumps and hops, they stay active in groups as they forage during spring and summer. During the winter time, food is harder to find and it is necessary for the birds to spend their day foraging continuously.

Image Caption: A male Variegated Fairywren in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Credit: James Niland/Wikipedia (CC Attribution 2.0)