Purple Backed Fairywren – Original Painting
Helen Ansell Original Painting
Acrylic on canvas, 50 x 50cm.
“These little guys can be found darting amongst the flowers around Mullewa at wildflower season. I have learnt they are very hard to photograph as they move so quickly all you can catch is a flash of blue! I have also learnt since painting them that there are a number of Blue Wren varieties in WA that are very similar in appearance and also live in the same areas so are often hard to distinguish one from the other!” Helen Ansell
This bird (Malurus assimilis) is a native Australian fairywren, being distributed over much of the continent, although it is replaced in southwestern Western Australia by the red-winged and blue- breasted fairywrens. It is found in scrubland that has plenty of vegetation to provide dense cover.
On average it is 14.5 cm long, and like other fairywrens the males adopt a highly visible breeding plumage, moulting after breeding and assuming a dull colouration, and will moult again into nuptial plumage in winter or spring. Its blue plumage also strongly reflects ultraviolet light, and so may be even more prominent to other fairywrens, whose colour vision extends into that part of the spectrum.
It is generally sedentary, with pairs maintaining territory year-round.
Breeding can occur at any time in inland Australia, with birds taking the opportunity to nest after heavy rains, although only one brood is usually raised each year.
The nest is a round or domed structure made of loosely woven grasses, twigs, bark and spider webs, with an entrance in one side, and is often larger than those of other fairywrens.