Splendid Fairy Wren, male, Northcliffe, WA

The Wrens, and the Fairy Wrens in particular, are among the most beautiful of all small Australian birds.  The male Fairy Wren is every bit the equal of its Robin counterpart in terms of its brilliant breeding plumage.

Perhaps the most stunning is the Splendid Fairy Wren, with its almost irridescant, electric blue breeding colours radiating out from the bushland.  The other species aren’t far behind, with the Superb Fairy Wren of the eastern seaboard, the Variegated and Red-Winged Fairy Wrens, and the Red Backed and White-Winged varieties, all providing a shock of colour to the scrublands they inhabit.  The females, with their brown and cream colouring, tend not to attract the eye as much as the males of their species, but nevertheless are very pretty little birds.

Wrens are mainly insectivorous, though they are known to supplement their diet by occasionally eating seeds.  They tend to live in grasslands and scrublands, or in coastal heath.  They usually betray their presence by their sound; a constant stream of high-pitched trilling and chirping as members of each family group communicate their location as they forage.

The rarest species that we have encountered is the Purple Crowned Fairy Wren, which now lives only in isolated areas of WA’s remote Kimberley region, and in an equally remote area near the Gulf of Carpentaria.  We count ourselves fortunate to have seen some members of this species during our stay at the Mornington Wilderness Conservancy in the Kimberley.  Those wrens were living among the Pandanas palms along a riparian (or permanent) creek.

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