Australian Bush Birds
Superb Fairy-wren  -  Malurus cyaneus
Pair of Superb Fairy-wrens
Male and female Superb Fairy-wrens.
Superb Fairy-wren Female Superb Fairy-wren
Left. Non-breeding male Superb Fairy-wren with black beak and dark blue tail. Right. Female Superb Fairy-wren with reddish-brown on bill, around eyes and between eye and bill.
map map The Superb Fairy Wren or Fairy Wren - Malurus cyaneus - has a different appearance depending on gender and breeding condition. Breeding males have pale blue on the crown, on the back and below the eyes; the throat and chest are a very deep blue which appears black under most lighting and merges into a horizontal black band across the lower chest. A black horizontal band through the eyes continues behind the head. Wings are brown, underside dusky white. The tail is dark, dull blue. Grows to 13 or 14 centimetres long.

Females are brown overall with reddish-brown bill, eyebrows and between eye and bill; tail brownish. Females in south-east South Australia have blue-tails. Non-breeding males are similar to females but with black bills and shorter, dark blue tails. Juveniles are coloured as females with whitish under parts.

There are six subspecies of the Superb Fairy-wren. Variations include size, plumage colour, tail and leg length. Tasmanian birds (cyaneus) are slightly larger, brighter and longer-tailed; cyanochlamys (photographed) is common in south-eastern Australia from Rockhampton to the Victorian Western District, extending inland onto the western slopes of the Great Divide. Other subspecies live in Tasmania, on Bass Strait islands, in south-east South Australia and Western Victoria.

Lives in dense undergrowth on heath, open forest, gardens, roadsides and inland watercourses.

Classified as common.

female Superb Fairy-wren
Female Superb Fairy-wren - the reddish-brown patch around the eye is prominent.
Superb Fairy-wren Superb Fairy-wren
Superb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus cyanochlamys) breeding male.
   Field Guide to Australian Birds - Morecombe, pages 220-221.
   Field Guide to the Birds of Australia - Simpson & Day, pages 172-173.