Malurus grayi

General description: 

Broad-billed Fairy-wren

Other common names: Broad-billed Wren-warbler; Campbell’s
Fairy-wren (campbelli)

Taxonomy: Todopsis grayi Wallace, 1862, Sorong, north-west New Guinea.

Male nominate race has crown and forehead mottled, with blue- tipped charcoal feathers; sky- blue brown from bill to back of head, black band from lores to nape collar, long lanceolate skyblue ear- tufts; mantle and scapulars smoky blue, grading to royal blue on lower back; upperwing and tail greybrown; below, pale sky- blue; iris dark brown; bill long,broad and  flattened, black; legs brown.

Conservation status: 

Not Threatened

Diagnostic description: 

Male nominate race has crown and forehead mottled, with blue- tipped charcoal feathers; sky- blue brown from bill to back of head, black band from lores to nape collar, long lanceolate skyblue ear- tufts; mantle and scapulars smoky blue, grading to royal blue on lower back; upperwing and tail greybrown; below, pale sky- blue; iris dark brown; bill long, broad and  flattened, black; legs brown. Female is like male except for solid charcoal- coloured crown and forehead, white belly. Immature is cinnamon- brown above, with face and malar stripe dusky, eartufts tawny breast and white belly; becomes blue first on brown, then on lower back and breast. Race  campbelli is smaller than nominate, has crown and forehead black, and back brown.

Behaviour: 

VOICE: Reeling song of 2- 3 seconds duration, typical of genus. Calls  noted include a high- pitched “ssss”, from foraging parties, and a very  high- pitched, sibilant slightly prolonged upslur.

Distribution: 

Subspecies and Distribution:

  • grayi (Wallace, 1862) - NW New Guinea from Vogelkop E to Torricelli Mts, N of main cordillera.
  • campbelli Schodde & Weatherly, 1982 - Mt Bosavi (S of cordillera), in E New Guinea.
Habitat: 

Understorey of tall primary forest to 1000 m; particularly favours tangled vines and shrubs under broken canopy.

Trophic strategy: 

No data on food; presumed insectivorous. Forages in groups, usually of 2- 5 individuals; disturbs and snatches prey as group travels quickly through undergrowth. Does not join mixed- species flocks.

Reproduction: 

Only one nest found, in Oct, containing two nestlings; fledglings observed in Feb and Nov. Nest a cavity in moss, with side entrance, lined with dry needles and strips of bark, 0,5 m above ground on sapling.

Taxonomic name: