Saturday, January 29, 2011

Fairy-wrens in Cottesloe


Cottesloe residents Paul and Sally Nelson alerted Cottesloe Coastcare to two sightings of a group of Variegated Fairy-wrens on the Cottesloe foredunes recently. Sally says that they have not seen these beautiful small birds for many years and they are delighted to think they may be making a comeback to Cottesloe dunes.

David Taggart, who is a weed Contractor for Town of Cottesloe and a keen naturalist, also reported seeing a group of Variegated Fairy-wrens in early summer, at Cottesloe Native Garden.

The Variegated Fairy-wren (Malurus lamberti) (according to Micheal Morcombe's 'Field Guide to Australian Birds' and from Wikipedia information) survives across 90% of Australia, in many different habitats. Sally and Paul's photo (above) is taken from Marine Parade. The close up photo showing a male in breeding plumage is from Wikipedia.

click here for Wikipedia article

Non-breeding males and females do not have the breeding male's bright colours, they have brown-grey feathers. Apparently the birds live in co-operative groups and together defend their territories.

Male wrens pluck yellow petals from flowers and display them to attract females as part of courtship! Perhaps the fact that Cottesloe Coastcare volunteers have been planting many low wattles has been to the benefit of the wrens. Wrens need scrubby vegetation to hide from predators and for a safe place for nest building. The local vegetation re-introduced by Coastcare provides food and habitat for insects. The wrens main diet is insects. Sally and Paul are very concerned that some people still allow their dogs (and cats) to enter the dunes. Cats and dogs can be a severe threat to our local wildlife.

'Our Variegated Fairy-wrens' may be Malurus assimilis, M.elegans or perhaps M.pulcherrimus. Perhaps someone who knows more about birds than me might let us know to which race our wrens belong.

This is why CCA volunteers work so hard - our aim is to achieve a more robust and diverse ecosystem on the Cottesloe foreshore - so sightings such as these lift our spirits!
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