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16

White-winged Fairy-wren

(Malurus leucopterus)
Alternate name(s): "White-backed Wren"; Race "leucopterus": "Black-and-white Wren"; Race "leuconotus": "Blue-and-white Wren"
Aboriginal name(s): "miril-yiril-yiri"
Collectively, the three species White-winged Fairy-wren, Splendid Fairy-wren and Variegated Fairy-wren, are called "miril-yiril-yiri" along the northern edge of the Nullarbor

Size: 12-13 cm
Weight: 7-11 g
Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See White-winged Fairy-wren at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Race "leuconotus"

ADULT

MALE

BREEDING

Frontal view of a male White-winged Fairy-wren in breeding plumage (photo courtesy of B. Kinross)

Frontal view of a male White-winged Fairy-wren; note that the white wings are not visible
[Near Narrabri, NSW, October 2006]

Near-lateral view of a male White-winged Fairy-wren (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Ocean Reef, Perth, WA, December 2016]

Near-lateral view of a male White-winged Fairy-wren (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Ocean Reef, Perth, WA, December 2016]

Near-lateral view of a male White-winged Fairy-wren (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Ocean Reef, Perth, WA, December 2016]

Near-lateral view of a male White-winged Fairy-wren with a clear display of the reflective white wings
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2012]

Lateral view of a male White-winged Fairy-wren (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Ocean Reef, Perth, WA, December 2016]

Lateral view of a male White-winged Fairy-wren (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Ocean Reef, Perth, WA, December 2016]

Lateral view of a male White-winged Fairy-wren
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2012]

Near-dorsal view of a male White-winged Fairy-wren (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Ocean Reef, Perth, WA, December 2016]

Near-dorsal view of a male White-winged Fairy-wren (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Ocean Reef, Perth, WA, December 2016]

Near-dorsal view of a male White-winged Fairy-wren
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2012]

Near-dorsal view of a male White-winged Fairy-wren, different posture (photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Currawinya NP, QLD, October 2012]

Dorsal view of a male White-winged Fairy-wren (photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Currawinya NP, QLD, October 2012]

Distant dorsal view of a male White-winged Fairy-wren, showing clearly its ability to display its raised crest
[Near Narrabri, NSW, October 2006]

Male White-winged Fairy-wren moulting into its breeding plumage
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2008]

This angle on the same moulting male White-winged Fairy-wren as above shows more clearly the white wing patches
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2008]

NON-BREEDING

Frontal view of a male White-winged Fairy-wrens in eclipse plumage, right, and a female, left (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Boolardy Station, Murchison, WA, August 2016]

Three male White-winged Fairy-wrens in eclipse
[Pilliga, NSW, June 2016]

Male White-winged Fairy-wren in the final stages of losing its breeding plumage
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2011]

The absence of rufous lores, as found in Superb Fairy-wrens and Variegated Fairy-wrens, indicates that this male bird in eclipse is a White-winged Fairy-wren
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2011]

Frontal view of a non-breeding male White-winged Fairy-wren
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2012]

Non-breeding male White-winged Fairy-wren that was observed by us helping feeding the dependent young of a breeding couple
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2012]

FEMALE

Frontal view of a female White-winged Fairy-wren
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2012]

Near-frontal view of a female White-winged Fairy-wren
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2012]

Near-lateral view of a female White-winged Fairy-wren
[Near Moree, NSW, April 2012]

Lateral view of a female White-winged Fairy-wren (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Ocean Reef, Perth, WA, December 2016]

Lateral view of a female White-winged Fairy-wren (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Ocean Reef, Perth, WA, December 2016]

Lateral view of a female White-winged Fairy-wren in a Casuarina
[Near Wee Waa, NSW, November 2016]

Lateral view of a female White-winged Fairy-wren
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2012]

Lateral view of a female White-winged Fairy-wren, different posture (photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Currawinya NP, QLD, October 2012]

Near-dorsal view of a female White-winged Fairy-wren
[Currawinya NP, QLD, September 2012]

Dorsal view of a female White-winged Fairy-wren
[Burren Junction Bore Bath, NSW, November 2016]

Dorsal view of a female White-winged Fairy-wren
[Currawinya NP, QLD, September 2012]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Frontal view of an immature White-winged Fairy-wren
[Near Cryon, NSW, June 2012]

Dorsal view of a fledgling White-winged Fairy-wren calling
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2012]

Fledgling White-winged Fairy-wren, here with its head turned
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2012]

Fledgling White-winged Fairy-wren calling
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2012]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Jul - Dec Eggs: 3 - 4 Incubation period: 13 - 14 days Fledging age: ca. 12 days

Nest building: Dominant female Incubation: Female Dependent care: Family clan

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Dome Material: Grass, wool, rootlets, webs Height above ground: 0.2 - 2 m

White-winged Fairy-wren nest in a relatively open setting
[Near Narrabri, NSW, January 2006]

This is the clan of White-winged Fairy-wrens (the male is not visible) that owns the nest shown above
[Near Narrabri, NSW, January 2006]

Closer look at one member of the White-winged Fairy-wren family
[Near Narrabri, NSW, January 2006]

Eggs

"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 15 x 12 mm Colour: Light cream, sparse light-brown speckles Shape: Tapered oval

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Territorial Mobility: Sedentary Elementary unit: Family clan

Although territorial, i.e. not tolerating other birds of their own species in their territory, White-winged Fairy-wrens have been seen by us regularly to share their territory with family clans of Superb Fairy-wrens.

Food, Diet

Fairy-wrens feed on small animals, such as insects.

Frontal view of a female White-winged Fairy-wren devouring a large fly (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Ocean Reef, Perth, WA, December 2016]

Lateral view of a female White-winged Fairy-wren devouring a large fly (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Ocean Reef, Perth, WA, December 2016]

Call(s)/Song

For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

wwfairy_20140424.mp3 leuconotus
(NW NSW)
Territorial call ("rollicking") © MD
wwfairy_20150528.mp3 leuconotus
(NW NSW)
Territorial call ("rollicking") © MD
wwfairy_20140723_3.mp3 leuconotus
(NW NSW)
Alarm & reply © MD
wwfairy_20140723_2.mp3 leuconotus
(NW NSW)
Various © MD
wwfairy_20170119.mp3 leuconotus
(NW NSW)
Various © MD

We have also recorded the wing beat of a White-winged Fairy-wren.

wwfairy_20140723_7.mp3 leuconotus
(NW NSW)
Departure © MD

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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