Teach Your Children The Right Passwords!

Teach  your  children  the  right  passwords!

~ by James J. S. Johnson

Superb Fairywren (Malurus cyaneus) Juvenile and Female ©WikiC

We will not hide them [“them” refers to God’s prophetic words – see verses 1-3] from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength, and his wonderful works that He hath done.  For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our [fore]fathers, that they should make them known to their children,  that the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born [יִוָּלֵ֑דוּ — niphâl imperfect form of the verb yâlad], who should arise and declare [וִֽיסַפְּר֥וּ — piêl imperfect form of the verb sâphar] them to their children, that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments, and [that they] might not be as their [fore]fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not steadfast with God.   Psalm 78:4-8

Superb Fairywrens teach their children to use passwords, but how?

In this fallen world even bird families have troubles.

One kind of family problem, confronted by many bird parents, is the problem of “brood parasites”, which is really a sneaky kind of “home invasion”.

Brood parasitism” is not a problem of parasitic worms or bugs.  Rather, this is a different kind of parasite – a bold “home invasion” parasite – a “foster child”, from another bird family, who was dropped into a “host” family.  The “host” family is thereafter burdened (unless and until the newcomer is evicted from the nest) with the cost of nurturing the intruding stranger who “moved in” without an invitation.  Worse, the invasive “foster child” often competes with the legitimate nestling birds for food and shelter, sometimes even competing aggressively.

PAS-Icte Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) ©WikiC

Male Brown-headed Cowbird  (Molothrus ater) ©WikiC

One of the best-known examples of such “brood parasitism” practices is those of the Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater), an icterid (i.e., member of the blackbird family) with a head that is distinctively chocolate-brown in color.

“A small, black-bodied [and iridescent-plumed] bird, a bit larger than a House Sparrow, with a brown head and a rather finchlike bill.  Females are nondescript gray [like the hue of female grackles] with a finchlike bill.

A brood parasite, the Cowbird lays its eggs in the nests of other birds.”

A Shiny Cowbird (Molothrus bonariensis) chick being fed by a Rufous-collared Sparrow (Zonotrichia Capensis)

A Shiny Cowbird (Molothrus bonariensis) chick being fed by a Rufous-collared Sparrow (Zonotrichia Capensis)

[Quoting from Roger Tory Peterson, PETERSON FIRST GUIDE TO BIRDS: A Simplified Field Guide to the Commonest Birds of North America (Houghton Mifflin, 1986), page 102.]

But cowbirds of North America are not the only birds that abuse the (involuntary) charity care of avian “foster parents”;  cuckoos (such as the Common Cuckoo of Eurasia) are known for the same “externalizing” of their parenting costs, producing nestling competitions that result in “changeling” conflicts.

“Once a brood parasite [mother] has managed to slip her egg into a host’s nest, her reproductive role is essentially over.  She leaves each chick to fend for itself, in a [bird] family that did not choose to raise it.

There’s no reason to feel [too] sorry for the uninvited foster chick, however; it is the unwitting adoptive parents that might soon face an unexpected brutality—the ruthless slaying of all their own offspring.

Many brood parasites, such as cuckoos, immediately dispatch of their nest mates [i.e., the children of the caring bird parents who built and maintain the nest that is now compromised] as soon as they hatch by summarily tossing them over the side of the nest.  [So much for refugee gratitude!]

Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) Egg in Eastern Phoebe Nest ©WikiC

Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) Egg in Eastern Phoebe Nest ©WikiC

African Honeyguides use far deadlier methods to eliminate their [nest] fellows.  Equipped from birth with hooks at the tips of their mandibles, they efficiently wield these needle-sharp barbs against their defenseless nest mates.

Cowbirds do not employ such direct methods, yet they just as effectively eliminate the competition.  Their companions often die of starvation because the larger, more aggressive cowbird grabs all the food [delivered by the nestling-caring parent birds].  It is a wonder that the adults still feed the chick when they realize the disparity in size.  Yet in most cases, the adults accept it [i.e., the cowbird “foster child”], even if it appears double the size of its foster parent and requires twice the care of its [foster] siblings.

Long-tailed Paradise Whydah by Dan

Long-tailed Paradise Whydah by Dan

Not all brood parasites oust their nest mates.  Parents of the whydah family choose species that closely resemble them, such as waxbills.  Not only do the eggs match in coloration, but the chicks resemble their hosts as well.  They even have the same markings in their gaping mouths which signal hunger to an observing adult.  Whylahs blend in with their adopted families instead of destroying them.”

[Quoting from Sharon A. Cohen, BIRD NESTS (Harper Collins, 1993), page 110.]

So cowbird “parenting” is a short-lived experience, somewhat like clandestinely depositing a newborn on the front steps of an orphanage, trusting that the baby will be nurtured (successfully) by others.  But is this surreptitious forced-fostering habit a guarantee of avian reproductive success, at the populational level?

“At first, you may wonder why more birds are not parasites—after all, parasites don’t need to build a nest [for raising their babies], and once they have laid eggs there is no more to it [i.e., to parenting responsibilities on a daily basis]; but there are hidden costs [and risks] to being a [brood] parasite, mainly that the [child-abandoning] bird gives up control over its eggs and young.

Female cowbirds lay an average of forty eggs per year, but only two or three [on average] mature to adulthood.”

[Quoting from Donald Stokes & Lillian Stokes, A GUIDE TO BIRD BEHAVIOR, VOLUME II (Little Brown & Company, 1983), page 213.]

So what does this have to do with avian parents teaching “passwords” to their natural progeny? 

Superb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus) by Ian

Male Superb Fairywren (Malurus cyaneus) by Ian

Consider this amazing news about the Superb Fairywren (Malurus cyaneus) of Australia, which is forced to react to the “child-abandonment” brood parasitism habits of the Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo. (Chrysococcyx basalis).

Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx basalis) by Tom Tarrant

Male Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx basalis) by Tom Tarrant

The Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo deposits its somewhat elongated pink-white egg, with rust-colored spots, into the nest of a fairywren.  The rust-speckled egg looks like a fairywren egg, confusing the fairywren nest owners of its true biogenetic identity.  (This is an avian version of family “identity fraud!)  The fairywren’s upside-down-dome-shaped nest is often dark inside, so visual confusion about which eggs really belong there is common – hence Horsfield’s bronze cuckoos often get by with their “changeling” deceptions, recruiting fairywren parents into fostering cuckoo eggs that hatch into cuckoo nestlings.

After a dozen days of incubation, in a fairywren nest, a bronze cuckoo chick hatches – 2 days before the hatching of fairywren eggs.  The “older” nestling often ejects the fairywren eggs from the nest, displacing the rightful “heirs”.  (What kind of “refugee gratitude” is that?!)

What can fairywrens do about this parasitic (and quasi-predatory) menace?

Is there a way to avoid the involuntary “home invasion” of such Trojan horses?

Yes, there are a few defensive habits that help to protect the fairywren from such home hijackings, including:

(1) nesting in fairywren colonies – so that teamwork is employed to drive off trespassing cuckoos when cuckoos fly near the fairywrens’ nesting colony;

(2) females attend their nests with vigilance, usually, limiting the opportunities that stealthy cuckoos have to access unattended fairywren nests;

(3) when female fairywren recognize a “changeling” in the nest, prior to laying any fairywren eggs therein, the fairywren female may abandon that (cuckoo) egg and build herself a new nest elsewhere;

(4) female fairywrens “teach” their eggs vocal “passwords” to use, to prompt being fed by their mother.  It is this last habit that demonstrates communication from (fairywren) mother to child, before the chick is hatched from its egg!

A few years ago, Diane Colombelli-Négrel, Sonia Kleindorfer, and colleagues from Flinders University in Australia discovered a remarkable way one bird fights back against brood parasites. Female superb fairywrens teach their embryos a “password” while they’re still in their eggs. Each female’s incubation call contains a unique acoustic element. After they hatch, fairywren chicks incorporate this unique element into their begging calls to ask for food. Colombelli-Négrel, Kleindorfer, and colleagues showed that chicks whose begging calls most resembled their mothers’ incubation calls received more food. But the brood parasites of the fairywren, Horsfield’s bronze-cuckoos, produced begging calls that did not so closely resemble the parental password.

[Quoting  Mary Bates, “To Beat a Parasite, Birds Teach their Young a Secret Password”, posted at http://www.wired.com/2014/06/to-beat-a-parasite-birds-teach-their-young-a-secret-password/ , accessed 11-23-AD2015.]

If fairywrens observe cuckoos in the neighborhood they become more diligent in their efforts to teach the “please-feed-me” passwords to their unhatched progeny, increasing the likelihood that the babies will successfully beg for food (using the vocal “password”) when they soon become hatchling chicks.

In a new study, Colombelli-Négrel, Kleindorfer, and colleagues again looked at the relationship between superb fairywrens and Horsfield’s bronze-cuckoos to see if a greater threat of brood parasitism would cause the fairywren to up its teaching efforts.

First, the researchers recorded calls from 17 fairywren nests in South Australia. They found the similarity between the mother’s password and the chick’s begging call was predicted by the number of incubation calls produced by the mother: If females made many incubation calls, their chicks ended up producing more similar begging calls.

Next, the researchers conducted a playback experiment at 29 nests. They broadcast either the song of Horsfield’s bronze-cuckoo or a neutral bird. After the cuckoo calls, but not after the neutral bird calls, female fairywrens made more incubation calls to their embryos. In other words, female fairywrens that heard a cuckoo near their nest increased their efforts to teach their password to their embryos.  Colombelli-Négrel and Kleindorfer say their results provide a mechanism for how fairywrens could get better at decision-making and lower the probability of committing an acceptance error for a cuckoo chick or a rejection error for one of their own chicks.  ‘When there are cuckoos in the area, you should call more to your eggs so that they have a higher call similarity after hatching and you can decide if the offspring is yours,’ Colombelli-Négrel and Kleindorfer wrote in an email. ‘We show a mechanism that starts in the nest and involves active teaching and sensorimotor learning in embryos.’”  [again quoting Mary Bates, supra]

This is truly amazing!  Anyone who is not amazed at how God programmed parenting skills into Superb Fairywrens is blind to the facts.

Also, by analogy, there may be a lesson for humans:  be careful about vulnerabilities to intrusive “foster children” that are “accepted” without informed consent  —  your own legitimate children may be put unfairly at risk.

Meanwhile, just as fairywrens teach “passwords” to their children, so should we humans.  But it is much more than “please feed me!” that we must teach our children, and our children’s children.

The vital “words of life” that we must teach, repeatedly, as the words of God, the Scriptures without which there is no real life, because mankind cannot live by physical bread alone, but by every Scriptural saying – every word that proceeds from God (Matthew 4:4).

We will not hide them [“them” refers to God’s prophetic words – see verses 1-3] from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength, and his wonderful works that He hath done.  For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our [fore]fathers, that they should make them known to their children,  that the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born [יִוָּלֵ֑דוּ — niphâl imperfect form of the verb yâlad], who should arise and declare [וִֽיסַפְּר֥וּ — piêl imperfect form of the verb sâphar] them to their children, that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments, and [that they] might not be as their [fore]fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not steadfast with God.   Psalm 78:4-8

<> JJSJ

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Orni-Theology

Maluridae – Australasian Wrens

James J. S. Johnson’s Articles

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“SUPERB,” “SPLENDID” AND “LOVELY” – Re-post Plus

“SUPERB,” “SPLENDID” AND “LOVELY”

“I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine.” Psalm 50:11

There are 13 species of a brightly plumed little songbird known as the fairy wren. The birds are found in Australia and New Guinea. So colorful are their feathers that the various species go by names like “superb,” “splendid” and “lovely.” However, even more noteworthy is the birds’ unusual behavior.

Superb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus) by Ian

Superb Fairywren (Malurus cyaneus) by Ian

A male courting a female will bring her a flower petal. The petal usually matches his color or is a deeply contrasting color. Normally a perky little bird with an upright tail, when courting he lowers his tail and creeps around close to the ground. As he twists his body back and forth, he puffs out his cheek feathers. If the female accepts his courting, she builds their nest alone, lining it with bright parrot feathers. While they mate for life, they are not known for fidelity to their mates.

Superb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus) Juvenile and Female ©WikiC

Superb Fairywren (Malurus cyaneus) Juvenile and Female ©WikiC

When mature, females will go off on their own, but males may stay with their parents for a year or more. Their main duty is to guard the family nest. If danger approaches the nest, the guard will puff up his wings, lower his tail and scuttle through dry grass, pretending to be a mouse. The idea is to lure the predator away from the nest.

Superb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus) Female by Nick Talbot

Superb Fairywren (Malurus cyaneus) Female by Nick Talbot

The beauty and unusual behavior of these little birds testifies to more than God’s creativity and love for beauty. They remind us of the beauty that was lost to God’s creation when it was tainted by man’s sin. Thankfully, some of that beauty that was lost can return to our lives through the forgiveness of sins that is found in Jesus Christ.

Prayer:
Dear Father, I thank You for the beauty of Your creation and for giving me the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ. Amen.

Notes:
Natural History, 11/94, pp. 56 62, “Faithful Philanderers.” Photo: Superb blue fairy-wren. Courtesy of Benjamint444. (CC-BY-SA 3.0)
©Creation Moments 2015 used with Permission


Lee’s Addition:
Here are some more photos of the Fairywrens from their Creator:


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Creation Moments
“Superb, Splendid and Lovely”
Interesting Things
Fairywren Family
Wordless Birds
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Sunday Inspiration – Australian Birds

Here are three more families of Passerine birds. Today’s three families live mostly in the Austro-Papuan (Australia, New Guinea, Paupa) vicinity.

Satin Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus) in bower by Ian

Satin Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus) in bower by Ian

My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent. (Proverbs 1:10 NKJV)

The Ptilonorhynchidae – Bowerbirds are renowned for their unique courtship behaviour, where males build a structure and decorate it with sticks and brightly coloured objects in an attempt to attract a mate.

Their diet consists mainly of fruit but may also include insects (especially for nestlings), flowers, nectar and leaves in some species. The satin and spotted bowerbirds are sometimes considered agricultural pests due to their habit of feeding on introduced fruit and vegetable crops and have occasionally been killed by affected orchardists.

White-browed Treecreeper (Climacteris affinis) by Ian

White-browed Treecreeper (Climacteris affinis) by Ian

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. (Romans 12:9 NKJV)

The Climacteridae – Australasian Treecreepers are separate from the European Treecreeper family, which will be highlighted later. As their name implies, treecreepers forage for insects and other small creatures living on and under the bark of trees, mostly eucalypts, though several species also hunt on the ground, through leaf-litter, and on fallen timber. Unlike the Holarctic treecreepers they do not use their tail for support when climbing tree trunks, only their feet.

Variegated Fairywren (Malurus lamberti) ©WikiC

Variegated Fairywren (Malurus lamberti) ©WikiC

Let them praise the name of the LORD, For He commanded and they were created. (Psalms 148:5 NKJV)

The Maluridae – Australasian Wrens are a family of small, insectivorous passerine birds endemic to Australia and New Guinea. Commonly known as wrens, they are unrelated to the true wrens of the Northern Hemisphere. The family includes 14 species of fairywren, 3 emu-wrens, and 10 grasswrens.

Malurids are small to medium birds, inhabiting a wide range of environments, from rainforest to desert, although most species inhabit grassland or scrub. The grasswrens are well camouflaged with black and brown patterns, but other species often have brilliantly coloured plumage, especially in the males. They are insectivorous, typically foraging in underbrush. They build domed nests in areas of dense vegetation, and it is not unusual for the young to remain in the nest and assist in raising chicks from later clutches.

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“How Can I Keep From Singing” ~ Pastor Jerry Smith, Jessie and Caleb Padgett and Reagan Osborne

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The Superb Fairywren – The Corporate Mob

The Superb Fairywren – The Corporate Mob ~ by a j mithra

Superb Fairywren (Malurus cyaneus) by Ian Montgomery

Superb Fairywren (Malurus cyaneus) by Ian

The Superb Fairywren is one of 12 species of the genus Malurus, commonly known as Fairywren, also known as the Superb Blue-wren or colloquially as the Blue Wren, is a passerine bird of the Maluridae family found in Australia and lowland New Guinea..

The Superb Fairywren can be found in almost any area that has at least a little dense undergrowth for shelter, including grasslands with scattered shrubs, moderately thick forest, woodland, heaths, and domestic gardens. It has adapted well to the urban environment and is common in suburban Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.

Superb Fairywrens are predominantly insectivorous. They mainly eats insects and supplements its diet with seeds. They eat a wide range of small creatures (mostly insects such as ants, grasshoppers, shield bugs, flies, weevils and various larvae) as well as small quantities of seeds, flowers, and fruit….

During winter, when food may be scarce, ants are an important ‘last resort’ food, constituting a much higher proportion of the diet Nestlings, in contrast to adult birds, are fed a diet of larger items such as caterpillars and grasshoppers…

Their foraging, termed ‘hop-searching’, occurs on the ground or in shrubs that are less than two meters high. Because this foraging practice renders them vulnerable to predators, birds tend to stick fairly close to cover and forage in groups….

Superb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus) Female by Nick Talbot

Superb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus) Female by Nick Talbot

The Superb Fairywren is a cooperative breeding species, with pairs or groups of 3–5 birds maintaining and defending small territories year-round. The group consists of a social pair with one or more male or female helper birds that were hatched in the territory, though they may not necessarily be the offspring of the main pair. These birds assist in defending the territory and feeding and rearing the young…

Birds in a group roost side-by-side in dense cover as well as engaging in mutual preening. The group often shelters and rests together during the heat of the day. If only we, as believers, could learn to stick close together, we can easily turn satan, our predator in to a prey…

That is why the Bible says,

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Mathew 18:20

Jesus too asked His disciples to go in twos to minister unto people…

Now after these things the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself was about to come. Luke 10:1

Again, if two lie together, then they have warmth; but how can one be warm [alone]? Ecclesiastes 4:11

These beautiful birds seem to know the secret of not only sticking close together, but also, engage in mutual preening…

We may call ourselves as the body of Christ but, when are we going to learn to stick together as one and help one another to grow in the Lord?

Several courtship displays by Superb Fairywren males have been recorded. The ‘sea horse flight’, named for its seahorse-like undulations, is one such display. During this exaggerated flight, the male—with his neck extended and his head feathers erect—tilts his body from horizontal to vertical, and descends slowly and springs upwards by rapidly beating his wings after alighting on the ground.

The ‘face fan’ display may be seen as a part of aggressive or sexual display behaviors; it involves the flaring of the blue ear tufts by erecting the feathers…

These male bird’s tilting of its body reminds us of God’s mercy..

The following verse shows the (horizontal) mercy and (vertical) grace of God…

For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:11, 12

That is the reason Jesus descended slowly from heaven and gave His life for you and me…

Remember He took four thousand years since Adam and Eve to come down from heaven to redeem mankind from sin and shame..

And He ascended rapidly to heaven, to prepare a mansion for us…

Is there a better mating display on the face of the earth than the descending and ascending of our Lord Jesus to save the entire human race? Thank You Jesus, for your mercy and grace…..

Vocal communication among Superb Fairywrens is used primarily for communication between birds in a social group and for advertising and mobbing, or defending a territory. Superb Fairywrens’ alarm call is a series of brief sharp chits, universally given and understood by small birds in response to predators. Females also emit a purr while incubating. The basic, or Type I, song is a 1–4 second high-pitched reel consisting of 10–20 short elements per second and is sung by both males and females. Males also possess a peculiar song-like Type II vocalization, which is given in response to the calls of predatory birds, commonly Grey Butcherbirds (Cracticus torquatus). The purpose of this behavior, which does not elicit a response from other nearby wrens, remains unknown…. It may serve to announce male fitness, but this is far from certain…

Though this bird’s alarm call does not elicit response from other nearby wrens, it never stops  reminding others about the presence of the predator through its calls..

No matter how they respond, God has kept us as watchmen over His people to warn about the presence of the predator..

Ezekiel 33:4-7 shows us God’s purpose in our lives…

Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head

He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul.

But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.

So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.

Like all Fairywrens, the Superb Fairywren is an active and restless feeder, particularly on open ground near shelter, but also through the lower foliage. Movement is a series of jaunty hops and bounces, with its balance assisted by a proportionally large tail, which is usually held upright, and rarely still. The short, rounded wings provide good initial lift and are useful for short flights, though not for extended jaunts. During spring and summer, birds are active in bursts through the day and accompany their foraging with song. Insects are numerous and easy to catch, which allows the birds to rest between forays. Food is harder to find during winter and they are required to spend the day foraging continuously…

These birds are restless feeders and they also sing while foraging….

If only we become restless feeders like these birds on the word of God and if only we sing and praise Jesus continuously all through the day, our Lord would encompass us with His presence…

Remember our Lord dwells among our praises…

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (Philippians 4:6)

Have a blessed day!

Yours in YESHUA,
a j mithra

Please visit us at: Crosstree

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Splendid Fairy-wren

Splendid Fairywren (Malurus splendens) by Ian Montgomery

 

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Splendid Fairy-wren  ~  Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 5/25/10

It has been about 4 years since a Fairy-wren featured as Bird of the Week. It’s not for nothing that the Superb Fairy-wren made the list (No. 78) in David Chandler and Dominic Couzens’s ‘100 Birds to See before You Die’, so let’s rectify that with the Splendid Fairy-wren.

Splendid Fairywren (Malurus splendens) by Ian Montgomery

Splendid Fairywren (Malurus splendens) by Ian

All the male Fairy-wrens are stunningly beautiful and some of their names reflect that: Superb, Splendid and Lovely before getting to more prosaic names like Purple-crowned and Variegated. Maybe the bird-namers should have consulted the thesaurus. Mine includes (under splendid): spiffy, ritzy, glorious, lavish, swanky and sublime; ‘imperial’ might fit the Purple-crowned well. Anyway, the Splendid lives up to its name, as you can see in the first photo, even if ‘splendid’ has connotations of grand, perhaps inappropriate for a tiny bird 14cm/5.5in in length, much of which is tail.

It’s not as well known as the Superb, which occurs in all the southeastern Australia capitals from Brisbane to Adelaide via Hobart, but the Splendid rules supreme in Perth. As addition, it has wide range throughout Australia east of the Great Divide with three distinct races in eastern, central and western Australia. The one in the first and second photos is the eastern race melanotus, photographed in southwestern Queensland, identifiable by it cobalt- rather than violet-blue colour, paler cheek patch, narrow breast band and black back – visible in the second photo – with the latter giving this race its other name of Black-backed Fairy-wren. Incidentally, Fairy-wrens are unrelated to Northern Hemisphere wrens and together with the grasswren and emu-wrens comprise the Australo-Papuan family Maluridae.
Splendid Fairywren (Malurus splendens) by Ian Montgomery

Splendid Fairywren (Malurus splendens) by Ian

The third photo shows a male of the nominate western race in transition from non-breeding to breeding plumage. Fairy-wrens, like some very colourful ducks such as the Mallard, shed their bright colours in the non-breeding plumage and acquire the ‘eclipse’ plumage. This is similar to that of the female, though eclipse male fairy-wrens are often subtly different from females and young birds. In the case of Splendid Fairy-wrens, the eclipse male is distinguishable from the female by having a dark rather than tan bill, greyish rather than tan eye-ring, dark lores (between the eye and the bill) and blue wings.

Best wishes,
Ian

Links: Fairywrens


Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Phone: +61-7 4751 3115
Preferred Email: ian@birdway.com.au
Website: http://birdway.com.au


Lee’s Addition:The Splendid Fairywren is in the Maluridae Family which includes the 29 Australasian Wrens (Fairywren, Emu-wren, and Grasswren). They are in the Passeriformes Order.

Great are the works of the LORD; They are studied by all who delight in them. Splendid and majestic is His work, And His righteousness endures forever. He has made His wonders to be remembered; The LORD is gracious and compassionate. (Psalms 111:2-4 NASB)

Interesting Birds – Fairywrens of Australia & New Guinea

Variegated Fairywren (Malurus lamberti) by Ian

Variegated Fairywren (Malurus lamberti) by Ian

Thinking

I know all the birds of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are Mine. (Psalm 50:11)

To listen – Fairywrens by Creation Moments

Splendid Fairywren (Malurus splendens) by Ian

Splendid Fairywren (Malurus splendens) by Ian

There are 13 species of a brightly plumed little songbird known as the fairy wren. The birds are found in Australia and New Guinea. So colorful are their feathers that the various species go by names like “superb,” “splendid” and “lovely.” However, even more noteworthy is the birds’ unusual behavior.

A male courting a female will bring her a flower petal. The petal usually matches his color or is a deeply contrasting color. Normally a perky little bird with an upright tail, when courting he lowers his tail and creeps around close to the ground. As he twists his body back and forth, he puffs out his cheek feathers. If the female accepts his courting, she builds their nest alone, lining it with bright parrot feathers. While they mate for life, they are not known for fidelity to their mates. When mature, females will go off on their own, but males may stay with their parents for a year or more. Their main duty is to guard the family nest. If danger approaches the nest, the guard will puff up his wings, lower his tail and scuttle through dry grass, pretending to be a mouse. The idea is to lure the predator away from the nest.

Lovely Fairywren (Malurus amabilis) by Ian

Lovely Fairywren (Malurus amabilis) by Ian

The beauty and unusual behavior of these little birds testifies to more than God’s creativity and love for beauty. They remind us of the beauty that was lost to God’s creation when it was tainted by man’s sin. Thankfully, some of that beauty that was lost can return to our lives through the forgiveness of sins that is found in Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Dear Father, I thank You for the beauty of Your creation and for giving me the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ. Amen.

References: Natural History, 11/94, pp. 56-62, “Faithful Philanderers

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The Fairywrens are in the Maluridae – Australasian Wrens Family which is part of the Passeriforms Order. They are like in the true wrens (Troglodytidae family) in their shape and the way they cock their long tail. The Maluridae family not only includes the Fairywren, but also the Emu-wren and Grasswren. They range from 5-7.5 in (12-19 cm) to 8-8.5 in (20-22 cm). Most have a short, fine bill, while the Grasswren’s is a little thicker.

Superb Fairywren by Keith Blomerly