Family Fairy-wrens (Maluridae)

Least Concern

Superb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus)


French: Mérion superbe German: Prachtstaffelschwanz Spanish: Maluro soberbio

Motacilla cyanea


, 1782,

Tasmania, Australia


DNA data#R show this species to be sister to M. splendens, the two forming a clade (the “Australian blue group”). One recent study#R suggests that evolutionary divergence is occurring in leggei and ashbyi. Six subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. c. cyanochlamys Sharpe, 1881 – E & SE Australia from SE Queensland S to Victoria.
  • M. c. leggei Mathews, 1912 – extreme S & SE South Australia.
  • M. c. ashbyi Mathews, 1912 – Kangaroo I, off South Australia.
  • M. c. elizabethae A. J. Campbell, 1901 – King I, in W Bass Strait.
  • M. c. samueli Mathews, 1912 – Flinders I, in E Bass Strait.
  • M. c. cyaneus (Ellis, 1782) – Tasmania.
  • Descriptive notes

    15–20 cm; 9–14 g. Male nominate race in Bright plumage has crown, ear-tufts and back iridescent cerise-blue, eyestripe, collar, scapulars and uppertail-coverts... read more


    Characteristic malurid reel, given by both sexes throughout day, appears to advertise territorial... read more


    Originally inhabited open eucalypt (Eucalyptus) forest, but this habitat now largely... read more

    Food and feeding

    Chiefly insects, mainly grasshoppers (Orthoptera), shield-bugs (Pentatomidae), ants (Formicidae), flies (Diptera), weevils (Curculionidae)... read more


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


    Resident. Dispersal largely by females; males tend to be philopatric.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common. Able to cope with exotic predators, e.g. domestic cats, and competitors, e.g. sparrows (Passer), and to thrive in suburban... read more

    Recommended citation

    Rowley, I. & Russell, E. (2019). Superb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus). 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 April 2019).