The Purple-crowned Fairy-wren is a small social bird found in dense riparian vegetation in northern Australia. Sadly, the habitat of the Purple-crowned Fairy-wren is threatened by feral herbivores and wildfires. AWC is working to protect riparian vegetation on its Mornington-Marion Downs and Pungalina-Seven Emu Wildlife Sanctuaries to help support the Purple-crowned Fairy-wren and other creek-loving species.
AWC is protecting riparian vegetation on its Mornington-Marion Downs Wildlife Sanctuary, home to the endangered western subspecies, and Pungalina-Seven Emu Wildlife Sanctuary, home to the eastern subspecies, by implementing a program of fire management and introduced herbivore control. AWC’s EcoFire prescribed burning program operates across a vast area of the central Kimberley region, and helps to increase the patchiness of burns and the decrease the frequency of intense wildfires. EcoFire helps to protect Purple-crowned Fairy-wren habitat across the central Kimberley.
Purple-crowned Fairy-wren’s dense riparian habitat is threatened by feral herbivores and wildfires. Grazing by livestock has been implicated in the destruction of habitat, and disappearance of the fairy-wren from parts of its range. Riparian vegetation is also sensitive to fire, which may render habitat unsuitable.
The Purple-crowned Fairy-wren is a small energetic bird. Plumage varies between the sexes. During the breeding season, males have a crown of bright purple surrounded by black, whereas females have grey heads and chestnut-coloured cheek patches. Both sexes have brown backs and wings, and a paler buff to the belly. Their tails are bright blue and perky. Unlike other fairy-wrens, purple-crowns are monogamous and do not seek mates outside their pair. Long-term research on Purple-crowned Fairy-wrens at Mornington has shown that individuals can live to more than 10 years of age, and dense Pandanus supports larger family groups.
The Purple-crowned Fairy-wren is a co-operative breeder that defends territories year-round in dense river-fringing vegetation. Offspring from previous breeding seasons will remain with their parents and help raise subsequent broods. They spend their days flitting around between Pandanus, river grasses and shrubs, and scratching in the leaf litter to find their prey of insects and sometimes seeds. They build loosely woven nests and have clutches of three to four eggs. All family members help feed chicks for up to two months after they leave the nest.
Range and Abundance
The Purple-crowned Fairy-wren is a specialist of dense riparian vegetation in northern Australia. It occurs as two subspecies. The western subspecies is found in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia and in the Victoria River District of the Northern Territory. The eastern subspecies occurs on rivers that drain into the Gulf of Carpentaria. It has an extremely patchy distribution and has declined in parts of its range.
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