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The Flinders Island subspecies of the Superb Fairywren

By December 16th, 2022Nature talk3 min read

Every little piece of insightful information I learn about the birds I’m photographing is knowledge gained that I can pass on. My curiosity has certainly been aroused by the variations that occur between the much-loved Superb Fairywrens found in different regions of Australia.

With reference to Wikipedia, there are currently six recognised subspecies of the Superb Fairywren (Malurus cyaneus), each one having a slight variation from the other. In Tasmania, there are three subspecies of Superb Fairywrens and they are all larger than those found on mainland Australia. These are:

  1. Malurus cyaneus ssp cyaneus – found throughout Tasmania.
  2. Malurus cyaneus ssp elizabethae – endemic to King Island. The male birds have a deeper blue colour than ssp cyaneus of mainland Tasmania.
  3. Malurus cyaneus ssp samueli – endemic to Flinders Island. The colour of the male bird is between ssp cyaneus of mainland Tasmania and ssp elizabethae of King Island.

The three additional subspecies are found on Australia’s mainland in south-eastern Queensland, eastern South Australia and on Kangaroo Island. (Source: Wikipedia)

When you’re out and about observing and photographing the birds of Tasmania, or if you simply want to learn a little more about the Tasmanian subspecies of the Superb Fairywren, take a look at the recent release of The guide to Tasmanian Wildlife and Birds – second edition, by Angus McNab. Open it up to page 239 to see photos of the male and female of each of the Tasmanian Superb Fairywren subspecies. The photo at the bottom left is a Flinders Island Superb Fairywren (Malurus cyaneus ssp samueli), and this photo just happens to be one of Coreena’s photos that she was delighted to contribute.

The Guide to Tasmanian Wildlife – second edition, by Angus McNab, is available to purchase direct from the publisher Forty South Publishing online bookshop or in-store and online from retailers Fullers Bookshop or Wild Island Tasmania

  1. Superb Fairywren (Malurus cyaneus) – mainland Australia
  2. Superb Fairywren (Malurus cyaneus ssp cyaneus) – mainland Tasmania
  3. Superb Fairywren (Malurus cyaneus ssp samueli) – Flinders Island

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