re: Fairy-wrens ID

To: <>
Subject: re: Fairy-wrens ID
From: "Ken Rogers" <>
Date: Sat, 2 Aug 2003 10:37:07 +1000
The following appears in "Bander's Aid. Supplement Number One" by Ken, Annie, and Danny Rogers.  It was published by RAOU (now Birds Australia) in 1990.  It is available from the Birding Shop.
Given that identification is not easy for a bander with a bird in his hand, it is going to be harder still for the birdwatcher.  Hopefully this will help.
Ken Rogers 


 The bander might have problems identifying females in areas where the ranges of Superb, Variegated, Splendid, and White-winged Fairy-wrens overlap.  Differences which will assist identification are listed below.  Tail lengths differ but this may not help if the birds are moulting.  They also vary geographically; the measurements given are of Victorian birds.

 Superb Fairy-wren

Tail  Brown with greyish green tinge and a fine off-white tip that soon wears off.  Lores  Light chestnut.  Tail Length Range 57 to 71 mm, 183 birds.

 Variegated Fairy-wren

Tail  Grey tinged blue with white tip.  (Each pair of feathers markedly shorter than the pair inside, giving typical ‘cathedral’ shape.)  Lores  Rich chestnut (sharply defined).  Tail Length Range  68 to 82 mm, 13 birds.

 Splendid Fairy-wren

Tail  Broad.  Deep greyish turquoise with a narrow white tip on all but two central tail feathers.  Lores  Pale rufous.  Flight Feathers  Often edged faintly greenish grey.  Tail Length Range  57 to 66 mm, 45 birds.

 White-winged Fairy-wren

Very much smaller than the others (Ian Rowley, pers. com.).  Tail  Grey faintly washed greyish turquoise.  Lores Off-white.


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