Variegated Fairy-wrens are highly sociable birds, living in communal, territorial groups that always consist of a dominant male and female; the rest of the group are young males and females.
The breeding male Variegated Fairy-wren is brightly coloured. The crown and sides of the head are blue, and the shoulder patch is a rich chestnut. The depth and variety of colours in the male varies among the four subspecies, distributed across the Australian mainland. Non-breeding males, females and young birds are brownish grey. Females in the Northern Territory and Western Australian populations have a blue-grey (rather than brown-grey) plumage.
The Variegated Fairy-wren is found in forest, woodland and shrub land habitats.
The Variegated Fairy-wren is the most widespread of the nine species of fairy-wrens found in Australia. It is found throughout Australia, being absent only from Cape York Peninsula, Tasmania and the extreme south-west corner of Western Australia.
Feeding and diet
The Variegated Fairy-wren feeds on insects and a small amount of seeds. The birds feed around the base of small shrubs, and seldom stray into the open. Some food may be found among the bark and foliage of short trees and grasses.
A mechanical 'triri-tirirrit-tirit-trit-tirrririt-trit-tirrit' call only in the breeding season.
The male Variegated Fairy-wren is often mistakenly believed to have a harem of females. The small groups actually consist of an adult female with younger or non-breeding birds. As they have a wide range, Variegated Fairy-wrens have been recorded breeding in almost every month of the year. The nest is an oval-shaped dome, constructed of grasses, and placed in a low shrub. The female alone constructs the nest and incubates the eggs, but is assisted by other group members in feeding the chicks.
- Breeding Season: most of year
- Clutch size: 3 to 4
- Higgins, P.J., Peter, J.M. and Steele, W.K. (eds) 2001. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds, Volume 5 (Tyrant-flycatchers to Chats). Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
- Serventy, V.N. (ed) 1982. The Wrens and Warblers of Australia. Angus and Robertson and the Australian Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife, Sydney.