Malurus assimilis dulcis - The Sandstone Fairy-wren

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Subject: Malurus assimilis dulcis - The Sandstone Fairy-wren
From: Graeme Chapman <>
Date: Fri, 31 Mar 2017 22:47:08 +0000
This very distinctive form of the Variegated Fairy-wren is mainly associated 
with the sandstone country of Arnhem Land.

To the average birdwatcher, the breeding males look much like any other 
Variegated F/W but females, winter males and immatures are another story. They 
are blue, not brown.

The females in particular are quite different because they have white lores - 
they look more like a Lovely Fairy-wren, indeed they were once thought to be a 
form of that species.

However it has been shown that further south in the N.T. there are 
intermediates where the blue grades to brown. So they are regarded at present 
as a subspecies of the Variegated.

Soon I plan to visit the N.T. and hope to photograph both the white-lored 
dulcis females and any intermediate birds I can find.

This is a request for help. I know Variegated Fairy-wrens occur around 
Katherine, Pine Creek, Mataranka etc. If you have seen them there, did the 
females have white lores? Unfortunately most people, once they've seen a male, 
don't bother looking at females.

In addition, does anyone know of a site close to Jabiru (say) where they occur, 
that doesn't involve climbing to the top of an escarpment.

I know they are easy to find up the top at Gunlom, and also they have been seen 
at Edith Falls, not good for my knees these days.

Finally a word to all you keen twitchers that are paying big money to chase 
White-throated Grasswrens. Don't ignore the Fairy-wrens, they will be right 
alongside, and make sure you see a female! A beautiful bird, they are eminently 


Graeme Chapman
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