Family Fairy-wrens (Maluridae)

Least Concern

Splendid Fairy-wren (Malurus splendens)


French: Mérion splendide German: Türkisstaffelschwanz Spanish: Maluro espléndido

Saxicola splendens

Quoy and Gaimard

, 1830,

King George Sound, south-west Australia


Sister to M. cyaneus; see that species. Races originally treated as constituting three separate species, but interbreed wherever they meet. Race callainus previously listed under junior synonym musgravi, as name callainus was claimed to be invalid because type specimen was thought to be an intergrade#R; this procedure has been refuted#R#R, and in any case subsequent review of the type has revealed that intergradient traits are negligible#R. As many as seven races described from early collections, but later studies have shown that most represent clinal variation, e.g. whitei (interior New South Wales) regarded as representing part of clinal variation of melanotus, and aridus (interior of Western Australia) now included in nominate. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. s. splendens (Quoy & Gaimard, 1830) – subtropical W & WC Australia.
  • M. s. callainus Gould, 1867 – C Australia from C & SW Northern Territory S to South Australia (E to Flinders Ranges).
  • M. s. emmottorum Schodde & Mason, 1999 – C Queensland (Cooper–Diamantina Divide, Opalton).
  • M. s. melanotus Gould, 1841 – S Queensland, inland New South Wales, extreme NW Victoria and SE South Australia (E from Flinders Ranges).
  • Descriptive notes

    11·5–13·5 cm; 8–11 g. Male nominate race in Bright plumage has crown, back, scapulars, throat and most of ventral surface rich violet-blue, ear-... read more


    Song a reel typical of genus, with a series of loud trills introduced by softer, simpler elements,... read more


    Shrubland and other dense vegetation, varying from eucalypt (Eucalyptus) woodland-heath in... read more

    Food and feeding

    Primarily insects, mainly ants (Formicidae), small beetles (Coleoptera), grasshoppers and crickets (Orthoptera), and bugs (Hemiptera); also... read more


    Aug–Jan; lays up to four clutches in a season and may rear more than one brood. Socially monogamous, remaining paired throughout year... read more


    Resident. Tendency for more females than males to disperse.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common throughout its range. Unlike M. cyaneus, does not persist in city parks and gardens.

    Recommended citation

    Rowley, I. & Russell, E. (2018). Splendid Fairy-wren (Malurus splendens). 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 18 October 2018).