Red-backed Fairy-wren

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Malurus melanocephalus


Size 9-13cm.

The smallest of the Fairy-wrens, with a long tapered ‘cocked up’ tail. During breeding the male is black with an orange/crimson saddle across the back and rump. Females are plain brown, creamy/white below. Voice is a high pitched tinny warble, or a soft, short rippling sound.

Feeding Habits

Feed mainly on seeds and small insects, hopping through grassland, around fallen logs and under bushes.


These birds have a lively courting display, and the males guard their territory vigorously. He has a ’harem’ of up to five females. A neat dome-shaped nest is built low down in a grass clump or low bush. The males moult and lose much of their vivid colour after the breeding season and look more like the females.

Places to Look

Grassy woodlands, paddocks, riverbanks, especially along overgrown tracks and roadside edges.


Birds which nest on or near the ground may be preyed on by cats.


NQ Dry Tropics gratefully acknowledges the contribution of Birdlife Townsville (formerly the Townsville Region Bird Observers Club) to the information on this page.

© Birdlife Townsville
© Birdlife Townsville

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