Red-backed fairywren

Red-backed fairywren
Malurus melanocephalus

Photo by Mark Andrews (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
red-backed fairywren (en); carriça-australiana-de-dorso-vermelho (pt); mérion à dos rouge (fr); ratona australiana de lomo rojo (es); rotrücken-staffelschwanz (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Maluridae

This species is endemic to Australia, being found in the north, from northern Western Australia to Queensland and east of the Great Dividing range down to north-eastern New South Wales.

These birds are 10-13 cm long and weigh 5-10 g.

Red-backed fairywrens are mostly found in tropical grasslands, preferring tall grasses such as bladygrass Imperata cylindrica, Sorghum sp. and Eulalia sp. They can also be found in arable land.

They are mainly insectivorous, taking various insects such as weevils and other beetles, bugs, grasshoppers, moths, wasps and cicadas. They also eat insect eggs and larvae, spiders and some seeds and other plant material.

Red-backed fairywrens breed in August-February. They are mostly monogamous, although some males will mate with several females. Some pair will have helpers that help raise the young. The nest is mostly built by the female, consisting of a spherical structure made of dry grasses and lined with finer grasses and hairs, concealed in a grass tussock or low scrub. There she lays 3-4 white eggs with reddish-brown spots, which she incubates alone for 2 weeks. The chicks are fed by both parents and sometimes helpers and fledge 11-12 days after hatching, but only become independent 1 month later.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is reported to be often common. This population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

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