Family Fairy-wrens (Maluridae)

Least Concern

White-winged Fairy-wren (Malurus leucopterus)


French: Mérion leucoptère German: Weißflügel-Staffelschwanz Spanish: Maluro aliblanco

Malurus leucopterus

Dumont de Sainte Croix

, 1824,

Dirk Hartog Island, Western Australia


See M. alboscapulatus. DNA evidence suggests that the two black-and-white island forms (nominate and edouardi) are not each other’s closest relatives. Possible genetic variation within race leuconotus requires further investigation. Authorship of name leucopterus disputed: sometimes argued to be attributable to Quoy and Gaimard#R#R#R. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. l. edouardi A. J. Campbell, 1901 – Barrow I, in Western Australia.
  • M. l. leucopterus Dumont de Sainte Croix, 1824 – Dirk Hartog I, in Western Australia.
  • M. l. leuconotus Gould, 1865 – coast of Western Australia E across most of mainland (except N) to C & S Queensland, EC New South Wales and NW Victoria.
  • Descriptive notes

    11–13·5 cm; 6–8 g. Male nominate race in Bright plumage is glossy black all over, except for white scapulars, secondary wing-coverts and innermost... read more


    Song a few short introductory notes followed by prolonged reel of up to 4 seconds’ duration... read more


    Low shrubland throughout arid and semi-arid areas, especially in samphire on saltpans and chenopod... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, especially beetles (Coleoptera); also spiders (Araneae). Also eats some seeds of plant genera Rhagodia, Chenopodium... read more


    Reported in all months except Jun, mainly in spring and summer but also after good rains in autumn, females renest after failure; in... read more


    Resident. May be locally nomadic outside breeding season.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common in much of its extensive range. In regional assessments of conservation status of taxa, mainland race leuconotus is considered secure... read more

    Recommended citation

    Rowley, I. & Russell, E. (2019). White-winged Fairy-wren (Malurus leucopterus). 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 20 August 2019).