The bird (most particularly in the 553 image) is in what Ian Rowley called the ‘blue-back’ display, where the pale blue feathers are erected as reflective shields, and the black plumage is positioned as a frame for the pale blue feathers, completely obscuring
the brown wings and white belly from some angles (hence ‘blue-black ‘). This display is now known to be used exclusively on foreign territories in order to attract extra-group matings later in the breeding season. It is sometimes accompanied by carrying a
yellow petal and flower.
I don’t think there is anything unusual about this bird, it is obviously the dominant male in the group and appears to be in a display posture, spreading
his feathers to show himself off as a good potential mate. If he wasn’t displaying his feathers would not be anywhere as “exposed”.
Your question isn’t silly as many people would not have watched a Superb Fairy-wren display like this.
From: Julie Clark
Sent: Thursday, 3 September 2015 11:11 AM
To: COG Chatline
Subject: [canberrabirds] Information Please
I saw this superb fairy-wren on the weekend and was surprised at the amount of black plumage on him. I've never seen one this dark before.
Is that because I'm not very observant or is he darker than most? Is this full breeding plumage and I've just never noticed them at this time of year??
Many thanks for any information.
My apologies to those who may regard my questions as silly... I've looked at quite a few photos taken by others and didn't really find a bird that looked as dark as this.