Family Fairy-wrens (Maluridae)

Least Concern

Southern Emu-wren (Stipiturus malachurus)


French: Queue-de-gaze du Sud German: Rotstirn-Borstenschwanz Spanish: Maluro meridional

Muscicapa malachura


, 1798,

Port Jackson = Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


Has been treated as conspecific with S. mallee. DNA study#R found that distributional boundaries and relationships among E races were uncertain; further research needed. Race polionotum spelt both “polionotum” and “polionota” in original description; former selected by First Reviser#R. Eight subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. m. hartogi Carter, 1916 – Dirk Hartog I, off Western Australia.
  • S. m. westernensis A. J. Campbell, 1912 – SW Western Australia.
  • S. m. parimeda Schodde & Weatherly, 1981 – S Eyre Peninsula, in South Australia.
  • S. m. halmaturinus Parsons, 1920 – Kangaroo I, off SE South Australia.
  • S. m. intermedius Ashby, 1920 – Mt Lofty Ranges, in SE South Australia.
  • S. m. malachurus (Shaw, 1798) – SE Queensland coast (from Noosa) S, E of Dividing Range, to SE Victoria (W to Otway Range).
  • S. m. polionotum Schodde & Mason, 1999 – SE South Australia and SW Victoria.
  • S. m. littleri Mathews, 1912 – Tasmania.
  • Descriptive notes

    15·5–19 cm; 5·5–9 g. Small-bodied malurid with tail twice as long as body, filamentous rectrices loosely webbed. Male nominate race is black-... read more


    Song a soft descending trill with a few short introductory notes, similar to Malurus song... read more


    Coastal heaths, swamps, dune thickets, cutting rushes (Gahnia) and button-grass (... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insectivorous. Forages by hop-search on ground, with tail held erect; probes vegetation and snatches resting insects. Beats moths (... read more


    Aug–Jan; may start second nest c. 8 weeks after first brood fledged. Breeds as a pair; territorial; male helpers present with 8% of... read more


    Resident. During autumn and winter travels locally in small groups; limited ringing studies reveal... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally abundant in suitable habitat; uncommon to rare in parts of range. Restricted races becoming rare as coastal heaths, swamps and dune thickets... read more

    Recommended citation

    Rowley, I. & Russell, E. (2018). Southern Emu-wren (Stipiturus malachurus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 21 October 2018).