Fairy-wrens (Maluridae)

Splendid Fairy-wren (Malurus splendens) - HBW 12, p. 521

French: Mérion splendide German: Türkisstaffelschwanz Spanish: Maluro Espléndido
Other common names: Banded Superb Warbler, Splendid Wren; Turquoise Fairy-wren (musgravi); Black-backed Fairy-wren (melanotus)

Taxonomy: Saxicola splendens Quoy and Gaimard, 1830, King George Sound, south-west Australia.
Forms a superspecies with M. cyaneus; these two, together with M. coronatus, constitute the “Australian blue group”. Races originally treated as constituting three separate species, but interbreed wherever they meet. Birds from C Australia long referred to as race callainus, but type specimen for that name is apparently an intergrade, and therefore taxonomically unidentifiable; name replaced by musgravi. As many as seven subspecies described from early collections, but later studies have shown that most represent clinal variation, e.g. whitei (described.. View all taxonomy...

Taxonomy: Saxicola splendens Quoy and Gaimard, 1830, King George Sound, south-west Australia.
Forms a superspecies with M. cyaneus; these two, together with M. coronatus, constitute the “Australian blue group”. Races originally treated as constituting three separate species, but interbreed wherever they meet. Birds from C Australia long referred to as race callainus, but type specimen for that name is apparently an intergrade, and therefore taxonomically unidentifiable; name replaced by musgravi. As many as seven subspecies described from early collections, but later studies have shown that most represent clinal variation, e.g. whitei (described from interior New South Wales) is regarded as representing part of clinal variation of melanotus, and aridus (interior of Western Australia) is now included within nominate. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution:

  • splendens (Quoy & Gaimard, 1830) - subtropical W & WC Australia.
  • musgravi Mathews, 1922 - C Australia from C & SW Northern Territory S to South Australia (E to Flinders Ranges).
  • emmottorum Schodde & Mason, 1999 - C Queensland (Cooper-Diamantina Divide, Opalton).
  • melanotus Gould, 1841 - S Queensland, inland New South Wales, extreme NW Victoria and SE South Australia (E from Flinders Ranges).