What do Splendid Fairy-wrens look like?
Breeding male Splendid Fairy-wrens are vibrant blue with black bands at the base of their tail, breast and beak. Violet-blue birds do not have this black band. A black band is also found around the eyes down to the neck. They also have pale blue cheeks and crowns. Non-breeding plumage is pale brown with a white belly, with pale blue wings and tail. Females have a red-tan around the beak and ring around the eye.
Where are Splendid Fairy-wrens found?
Splendid Fairy-wrens are found in Western Australia from Shark Bay to southern WA, all the way down to Flinders Ranges in South Australia and in central Northern Territory. They are also found to the north of Victoria, east of NSW and southern Queensland.
- Males wear a dark blue costume when they’re looking for love, as it helps them attract a female.
- Splendid Fairy-wrens live in communal blended families. This matriarchy is run by one single female, the mother. Dad is the only breeding male, and the rest of the flock can contain up to six helpers, including adult sons born in previous seasons.
Splendid Fairy-wrens live in communal blended families. This matriarchy is run by one single female, the mother. Dad is the only breeding male, and the rest of the flock can contain up to six helpers, including adult sons born in previous seasons.
These social wrens usually live in the same area all year long. Raising the chicks together is a way for these little neighbours to bond.
This joyful experience lasts for about a month. Splendid Fairy-wren mums incubate their eggs for around two weeks. The chicks are then fed by the group for just 13 days.
The Splendid Fairy-wren’s bold blue feathers aren’t an accident.
Males wear this dark blue costume when they’re looking for love, as it helps them attract a female.
While Splendid Fairy-wrens stand out brilliantly from the regular browns and blacks of many backyard birds, they’re quite shy and tricky to spot. As they venture out of their homes for food, they move very quickly.
You can spot them zipping out of the canopy like little rockets. When foraging on the ground, they quickly hop in large bounds.
You can often spot members of these flocks roosting on a tree branch and nestled up together. They also preen each other.
You can look after Splendid Fairy-wrens at your place
Splendid Fairy-wren flocks love low-growing shrubs. This is a home to build their nests in, and a hunting ground teeming with lots of tasty insects.
You can lend a hand to Splendid Fairy-wrens by planting lots of strappy or spiny ground covers. This provides them with shelter from predators such as cats and bigger birds. As Splendid Fairy-wrens usually live in the same territory all year long, they will thank you for the renovations that keep their homes private and safe.
Simple things that you do can make a huge difference to Australia’s animals. That’s why the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife is running Backyard Buddies – to give you tips to help.
What is a backyard buddy?
Backyard buddies are the native animals that share our built-up areas, our beaches and waterways, our backyards and our parks. The Splendid Fairy-wren is a backyard buddy.
Backyard buddies are also the local people who value the living things around them, like Splendid Fairy-wrens, and are willing to protect and encourage them by doing a few simple things around their own homes.
So you can be a backyard buddy.
Be a backyard buddy
It’s easy. All you have to do is care… and take a few simple steps.
Step one is to find out what Splendid Fairy-wrens do and do not like.
Splendid Fairy-wrens love:
Insects – including ants, grasshoppers, crickets, spiders and bugs.
Safe nesting sites – kept well hidden by tightly packed local native shrubs.
Their sons – who stay with the flock after they’ve become adults, and help raise their younger brothers and sisters.
But they don’t like:
Pesticides – which contaminate the insects they eat.
Open spaces – which leave them exposed and vulnerable to predators.
Fast cars – which can injure and harm them if they collide with one.
Cats and dogs – who may attack them or their chicks.
Be a Splendid Fairy-wren buddy
- Plant strappy or spiny ground covers in your garden. These create safe refuges and habitat for Splendid Fairy-wrens, while keeping bigger, predatory birds out.
- Slow down and keep an eye out for wildlife when driving near bushland, parks or gardens.
- Keep your cat or dog indoors if any wrens live in your area. Or you can install a cat run so your cat can venture outdoors without harming any backyard buddies.
- Call a local vet or wildlife carer if you spot an injured bird or other buddy.
- Using pesticides. Instead, let Splendid Fairy-wrens and other backyard buddies be your natural bug controllers.
- Over-pruning plants or cutting down trees in your backyard. Splendid Fairy-wrens use plants of all different heights for shelter and food, and will duck behind one if they spot a predator approaching.
Don’t be surprised if:
- You spot a Splendid Fairy-wren defending its territory with gusto.
- You hear a male Splendid Fairy-wren singing his tune straight after a Grey Butcherbird’s call. This bold move helps grab a female’s attention while she’s alert.
- You spot a blue Splendid Fairy-wren presenting a brown female with pink or purple flower petals. This is one of the Splendid Fair-wren’s unique displays of courtship.