1854 - White-winged Fairywren, Malurus leucopterus
Malurus leucopterus 1
The white-winged fairywren (Malurus leucopterus) is a species of passerine bird in the Australasian wren family, Maluridae. It lives in the drier parts of Central Australia; from central Queensland and South Australia across to Western Australia. Like other fairywrens, this species displays marked sexual dimorphism and one or more males of a social group grow brightly coloured plumage during the breeding season. The female is sandy-brown with light-blue tail feathers; it is smaller than the male, which, in breeding plumage, has a bright-blue body, black bill, and white wings. Younger sexually mature males are almost indistinguishable from females and are often the breeding males. In spring and summer, a troop of white-winged fairywrens has a brightly coloured older male accompanied by small, inconspicuous brown birds, many of which are also male. Three subspecies are recognised. Apart from the mainland subspecies, one is found on Dirk Hartog Island, and another on Barrow Island off the coast of Western Australia. Males from these islands have black rather than blue breeding plumage.
The white-winged fairywren mainly eats insects, supplementing this with small fruits and leaf buds. It occurs in heathland and arid scrubland, where low shrubs provide cover. Like other fairywrens, it is a cooperative breeding species, and small groups of birds maintain and defend territories year-round. Groups consist of a socially monogamous pair with several helper birds who assist in raising the young. These helpers are progeny that have attained sexual maturity but remain with the family group for one or more years after fledging. Although not yet confirmed genetically, the white-winged fairywren may be promiscuous and assist in raising the young from other pairings. As part of a courtship display, the male wren plucks petals from flowers and displays them to female birds.