Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Today at the bird bath

Some afternoons, red-backed fairywrens (Malurus melanocephalus) visit the bird bath for a communal dip and gossip (judging by the noise), after which they raid the flower bed for insects. They are very efficient hunters and are always welcome around here.
 

Fairywrens (Maluridae) are restricted to Australia and New Guinea. Despite the name, they are not related to Northern Hemisphere wrens (Troglodytidae). It's another of those cases where appearances are deceptive.

If this species doesn't ring any bells, you might be familiar with its relatives, the superb fairywren (M. cyaneus) of SE Australia and splendid fairywren (M. splendens) of Western and central Australia. There is certainly truth in advertising when it comes to common names in this group. The superb fairywren is superb, the splendid fairywren is truly splendid and this one does, in fact, have a red back. (Although some of them are more orange, but we'll ignore that. *Makes hand gesture* These are not the fairywrens you were looking for.)


The red-backed fairywren occurs in NE and N Australia, where it lives in tall grass and scrub. I used to see them frequently in the cleared areas near the rainforest, but never managed to get a really good look at them. They are much more obliging here.



14 comments:

Russell Jenkins said...

Really lovely pictures and I do love these guys very much. They move around in little waves and bring much joy. Thanks Snail, for this post.

Snail said...

Thanks, Russell. They are such gorgeous and lively little things.

Happy new year to you (if it's not too late to say it)!

Stiletto said...

The birds at the bath make for a sweet images. The red-backed is striking. Your shots are good.

Snail said...

Thank you! They might be my new favourite bird.

Sherrie York said...

Is it really fair that they should have a double-cute name like fairywren? (As if fairy or wren weren't enough...) I think I'll take charm over splendor any day, although the female really ought to do something about that tatty tail.

Snail said...

Don't let all that cuteness fool you, Sherrie! They're a dissolute bunch, the fairywrens. Tonnes of papers have been written about their promiscuity and flash colours and pugnacious behaviour. There's probably an HBO mini-series on its way.

neomyrtus said...

awwwwww - we still love 'em

Snail said...

Sure do! :)

Lomandra said...

Super cute! Great photographs :)

Snail said...

Thanks, Lomandra. The male was around earlier --- he looked like a wind blown ember.

laura.forestdreams:) said...

a FAIRYWREN!! i love that name...and the cute little bird that wears the red necklace proudly!!

laura.forestdreams:) said...

OH and Happy New Year snail!!

Snail said...

Happy new year, Laura! They are darling little things.

Ladybug said...

These birds are new to me and I'm so glad to learn of them. Really beautiful little things! I'm guessing they get there name from the tails, which look like wrens' tails???