Fighting fairies

The loser of the fight went into hiding so I only managed to capture images of the bold fairy-wren that caused the problem.


Superb Fairy-wren singing - Kim WormaldSuperb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus) – male
Canon 5DIII, 1/640, f5.6, ISO 3200


The wild fairy-wren above sang loudly to claim his new territory – in an aviary at Healesville. I was in the aviary when visitors believed that fairy-wrens in the double-door lock were trying to escape and ushered them inside, which caused an immediate issue for the resident male.

I usually avoid aviaries, they give me the shivers, but the weather has been so dismal that I wandered along to the sanctuary just to see some wildlife and have cover nearby if it rained. The aviary I was in was a large flight aviary which had plenty of areas where the birds could hide and forage without being seen. When I saw the fairy-wrens in battle I was too busy watching to make sure the birds were okay and missed getting a shot of the males together.


Superb Fairy-wren - Kim WormaldSuperb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus) – male
Canon 5DIII, 1/640, f5.6, ISO 3200


The resident male  was in full breeding plumage with black and bright blue feathers on his head and throat. I would have thought the interloper would have lost a territorial battle but it was a decisive attack that caused the resident male to hide in thick foliage.


Superb Fairy-wren 2 - Kim WormaldSuperb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus) – male
Canon 5DIII, 1/640, f5.6, ISO 3200


The image above is my favourite of the series. He’s such a majestic fiesty little bird. I prefer the more intimate head angle in this shot, and like the way his feathers are clear and his tail and wings look so beautiful.


Superb Fairywren - female - Kim WormaldSuperb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus) – female
Canon 5DIII, 1/640, f5.6, ISO 1600


Volunteers arrived to feed mealworms to the insectivores, which were enjoyed by the female fairy-wren above. The females often have a blue wash to their tails which cause them to be confused with juvenile or non-breeding males but females have brown bills and lores (the area between the bill and the eye) so their gender is easily identified. The ‘cyan’ part of their scientific name comes from the intense colours of the males’ breeding plumage. More information and images about Superb Fairy-wrens can be found on earlier lirralirra posts, including: Mr and Mrs Fairy-wren, Superb Fairy-wrens, Superb Plumage and Hurrah for the Fairy-wrens!

I wanted to inform a ranger about the plight of the resident male and was able to do this via the volunteers. The ranger said that several birds had been in the double-door locks that day. She eventually found the resident male and decided to trap him, make sure that he wasn’t injured and release him into the wild with his partner. There’s a kind of unity in that outcome.

Hopefully we’ll have brighter weather soon and I’ll be able to get back to some of my favourite haunts.

Happy birding, Kim


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