To: Michael Hunter <>
Subject: Fairywrens
From: Russell Woodford <>
Date: Wed, 25 Aug 2021 16:31:55 +1000
Fairywrens are a pretty amazing family. It’s easy to assume that the behaviours 
of one species can be generalised to others - but research shows some 
incredible differences. 

If you’ve been listening to Michael Greenshields’ excellent podcast (The 
Birder’s Guide) you may have heard Niki Teunissen discuss her study of 
Purple-crowned Fairywrens. This species is unique amongst Australian Fairywrens 
in that all the males help out the colony by feeding young and defending the 
nest against predators - including goshawks and goannas!! I can’t imagine how 
well that would go but the sort of behaviour Michael described may well be a 
group response to a perceived predator. Maybe other fairywren species work 
collaboratively to defend nests? 

Perhaps some of the other fairywren studies can shed light on Michael’s 

And I’m not sure why the big group of birds would suddenly disband overnight. 
It will be interesting to see if you get a winter flock next year. Perhaps 
you’ve missed them in previous years because you were at work and not in 

Russell Woodford

> On 24 Aug 2021, at 9:37 pm, Michael Hunter <> wrote:
> Interesting Geoff. Sounds very similar.
> Once in the desert near Well 35 I was “attacked” by a group of over fifty 
> Variegated FWrens all in a big 2 m ball like group, about  3m away, two 
> males, the whole group “screaming” at me to go away, backing off only as much 
> as I advanced , but kept calling until I left their territory about 10 - 15 
> min later.  Initially I really thought that they would physically attack me. 
> This would have been in about August/September. No visible nests, open shrub 
> land. No open water within km .The only sighting of wrens during a 2 to 3hr 
> walk.
> Sent from my iPhone
>> On 24 Aug 2021, at 8:40 pm, Geoff Shannon <> wrote:
>> Here in NW Tasmania I have several times come across large groups (mid 
>> teens to about 50)only to find they go back to usual family groups. These 
>> large groups occur in winter but do not appear to be stable big flocks. Not 
>> sure what this means. Not just in outer suberbs but also in country, but not 
>> everywhere. Over ten years on 2 hectares whre there were upto 7 groups never 
>> saw amalgamation of groups. So cannot explain.
>>      Interesting to hear same happening elsewhere.
>>      Thanks for your comments Geoff Shannon . NW ( now northern) Tasmania 
>>>> On 24 Aug 2021, at 13:46, Michael Hunter <> wrote:
>>> Hi all.
>>> Here in Mulgoa Valley we have had an irruption of Superb Fairy Wrens over 
>>> the last few weeks, Almost all “brown birds”, one male in eclipse plumage, 
>>> one in full breeding garb.
>>> I watched two  brown birds in what looked like mortal combat, the victim 
>>> spread eagled
>>> under the attacker who would not let go. Three other bbs flew to the 
>>> rescue, jumped on the attacker then all flew off.
>>> They are very engaging little birds, popping in and out of our pot plant 
>>> collection, coming up to our feet if we sit still enough.
>>> Almost overnight their numbers dropped from maybe thirty around the house 
>>> for over a week to five or six, including an eclipse make and two young 
>>> dark tailed males.  Where did they go?
>>>      Best
>>>         Michael
>>> Sent from my iPhone
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