The Superb Fairywren (Malurus cyaneus), also known as Superb Blue-wren or colloquially as Blue wren, is a common and familiar passerine bird of the Maluridae family.
The Superb Fairywren is 14 cm (5.5 in) long and weighs 8–13 g (0.28–0.46 oz), with males on average slightly larger than females.
The average tail length is 5.9 cm (2⅓ in), Averaging 9 mm (0.4 in) in subspecies cyaneus and 8 mm (0.3 in) in subspecies cyanochlamys, the bill is relatively long, narrow and pointed and wider at the base. Wider than it is deep, the bill is similar in shape to those of other birds that feed by probing for or picking insects off their environs. among the shortest in the genus.
Like other fairywrens, the Superb Fairywren is notable for its marked sexual dimorphism, males adopting a highly visible breeding plumage of brilliant iridescent blue contrasting with black and grey-brown. The brightly coloured crown and ear tufts are prominently featured in breeding displays.
The breeding male has a bright blue forehead, ear coverts, mantle and tail, brown wings, and black throat, eye band, breast and bill. Females, immatures, and non-breeding males are a plain fawn colour with a lighter underbelly and a fawn (females and immatures) or dull greyish blue (males) tail. The bill is brown in females and juveniles and black in males after their first winter. Immature males moult into breeding plumage the first breeding season after hatching, though incomplete moulting sometimes leaves residual brownish plumage that takes another year or two to perfect. Both sexes moult in autumn after breeding, with males assuming an eclipse non-breeding plumage.
They moult again into nuptial plumage in winter or spring. Breeding males' blue plumage, particularly the ear-coverts, is highly iridescent due to the flattened and twisted surface of the barbules. The blue plumage also reflects ultraviolet spectrum. light strongly, and so may be even more prominent to other fairywrens, whose colour vision extends into this part of the spectrum.
Vocal communication among Superb Fairywrens is used primarily for communication between birds in a social group and for advertising and defending a territory. The basic, or Type I, song is a 1–4 second high-pitched reel consisting of 10–20 short elements per second; it is sung by both males and females. Males also possess a peculiar song-like Type II vocalization, which is given in response to the calls of predatory birds, commonly Grey Butcherbirds (Cracticus torquatus) The purpose of this behavior, which does not elicit a response from other nearby wrens, remains unknown. It is not a warning call, but in fact gives away the location of the vocalizing male to the predator. It may serve to announce male fitness, but this is far from certain. Superb Fairywrens' alarm call is a series of brief sharp chits, universally given and understood by small birds in response to predators. Females also emit a purr while incubating.
Sedentary and territorial, it is found across south-eastern Australia. The species exhibits a high degree of sexual dimorphism; the male in breeding plumage has a striking bright blue forehead, ear coverts, mantle and tail with a black mask and black or dark blue throat. Non-breeding males, females and juveniles are predominantly grey-brown in colour; this gave the early impression that males were polygamous as all dull-coloured birds were taken for females. Two subspecies are recognised: the larger and darker Tasmanian form cyaneus and the smaller and paler mainland form cyanochlamys.
Like other fairywrens, the Superb Fairywren is notable for several peculiar behavioural characteristics; birds are socially monogamous and sexually promiscuous, meaning that although they form pairs between one male and one female, each partner will mate with other individuals and even assist in raising the young from such pairings. Male wrens pluck yellow petals and display them to females as part of a courtship display.
The Superb Fairywren can be found in almost any area that has at least a little dense undergrowth for shelter, including grasslands with scattered shrubs, moderately thick forest, woodland, heaths, and domestic gardens. It has adapted well to the urban environment and is common in suburban Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. The Superb Fairywren mainly eats insects and supplements its diet with seeds.
Source : Wikipedia
Source : Wikipedia