Family Fairy-wrens (Maluridae)

Least Concern

Variegated Fairy-wren (Malurus lamberti)


French: Mérion de Lambert German: Weißbauch-Staffelschwanz Spanish: Maluro variegado

Malurus lamberti

Vigors and Horsfield

, 1827,

no locality = Sydney area, New South Wales, Australia


See M. elegans. Sometimes considered conspecific with M. amabilis (which see). Geographical variation in colours of male and female plumages considerable, and races have been regarded as representing four separate species, with many additional races described, but recent molecular work (not including bernieri) indicates that all races other than nominate are very closely related#R, perhaps supporting split into two species#R; race assimilis intergrades with both dulcis and rogersi, and also, in E, with coastal nominate race. Five subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. l. rogersi Mathews, 1912 – Kimberley region, in N Western Australia.
  • M. l. dulcis Mathews, 1908 – Arnhem Land, in N Northern Territory (N Australia).
  • M. l. bernieri Ogilvie-Grant, 1909 – Bernier I, in Shark Bay, off W coast of Western Australia.
  • M. l. assimilis North, 1901 – Purple-backed Fairy-wren – mainland Australia W of Great Dividing Range.
  • M. l. lamberti Vigors & Horsfield, 1827 – Variegated Fairy-wren – E Australia E of Great Dividing Range.
  • Descriptive notes

    11·5–14·5 cm; 6·5–10 g. Male nominate race in Bright plumage has crown sky-blue, ear-coverts paler, separated from royal-blue mantle by black... read more


    Song a reel, but relatively weak, like that of others in “chestnut-shouldered group”.... read more


    Dense shrubby vegetation, from coastal scrub to thickets in broken rocky country, along creeks, and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Arthropods; recorded items include grasshoppers (Orthoptera), bugs (Hemiptera), beetles (Coleoptera), flies (Diptera), ants and wasps (... read more


    Jul–Dec throughout range; breeds also in response to late-summer cyclonic rains; may rear two or three broods if season suitable.... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common in suitable habitat. Widespread, occurring over c. 90% of Australia. Race bernieri found only on one small island, and in regional... read more

    Recommended citation

    Rowley, I. & Russell, E. (2019). Variegated Fairy-wren (Malurus lamberti). 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 19 July 2019).