The Hidden Gem: Exploring the Splendid Fairy Wren’s Elusive Nature and its Dazzling Fluorescent Blue Feathers

A male Splendid Fairy-wren wearing his full breeding plumage has all the visible qualities to stake claim to the title of the most stunningly beautiful of all fairy-wrens.

Shades of stunning fluorescent blues combine with black and white to make this a beautiful bird indeed.


Photo Courtesy of Nevil Lazarus – CC BY 3.0

Spread out across a wide range of southern mainland south Australia, predominantly inhabiting arid and semi-arid regions.


Photo Courtesy of patrickkavanagh – CC BY 2.0

Like other wren species, Splendid Fairy-wrens (Malurus splendens) are socially monogamous but sexually promiscuous, meaning that although males and females partner with one another they will quite happily mate with other individuals, then more often than not, remain to help raise the young.


Photo Courtesy of Laurie Boyle – CC BY 2.0

As part of their courtship ritual, male wrens will often pluck pink of purple flower petals and display them to prospective mates.


Photo Courtesy of Laurie Boyle – CC BY 2.0

While feeding Splendid Fairy-wrens usually forage on the ground eating small insects and spiders. They will sometimes supplement their diet with seeds, though ants become the last resort staple during wintertime.


Photo Courtesy of Paul Balfe – CC BY 2.0

Unknown to most members of the public, there is an arms race between Splendid Fairy-wrens and brood parasite birds, (birds who lay their eggs in the nests of others, leaving them to race their chicks).

Photo Courtesy of Laurie Boyle – CC BY 2.0

One fairy wren species has developed a remarkable way to fight back against unwanted and unwelcomed nestlings. Female Superb fairy wrens teach their embryos a secret password while they are still in their eggs.


Photo Courtesy of John Morton – CC BY 2.0

After they have hatched the fairy wren chicks incorporate this unique passwords into the calls when begging for food.


Photo Courtesy of Stephen Barrell – CC BY 2.0

To beat these tricky brood parasite birds, Superb Fairy-wrens must teach their young this password early and often.

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