| Superb fairywren, Malurus, Purple‑crowned fairywren, Splendid fairywren, Variegated fairywren|
Maluridae is 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 15 species of fairywren, 3 emu-wrens, and 11 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.
Fairywrens are notable for several peculiar behavioral characteristics. They are socially monogamous and sexually promiscuous, meaning that although they form pairs between one male and one female, each partner will mate with other individuals and even assist in raising the young from such pairings. Males of several species pluck petals of conspicuous colors and display them to females for reasons unknown.
The song of fairywrens is pleasant and complex, and at least two species (superb and splendid) possess, in addition to the alarm calls common to – and universally understood by – most small birds, another vocalization used when confronted by predators. This, termed "Type II Vocalization," is song-like and used when confronted by calling butcherbirds, and sometimes other predatory birds. Its purpose is, however, unknown; it is certainly not a warning call.
As with many other Australian creatures, and perhaps more than most, the species making up this family were comprehensively misunderstood by early researchers. They were variously classified as Old World flycatchers, Old World warblers, and Old World babblers. In the late 1960s morphological studies began to suggest that the Australo-Papuan fairywrens, the grasswrens, emu-wrens and two monotypic wren-like genera from New Guinea were related and, following Charles Sibley's pioneering work on egg-white proteins in the mid-1970s, Australian researchers adopted the family name Maluridae in 1975.
With further morphological work and the great strides made in DNA analysis towards the end of the 20th century, their position became clear: the Maluridae are one of the many families to have emerged from the great corvid radiation in Australasia. Their closest relatives are the Meliphagidae (honeyeaters), and the Pardalotidae. Their obvious similarity to the wrens of Europe and America is not genetic, but simply the consequence of convergent evolution between more-or-less unrelated species that share the same ecological niche.
A 2011 analysis by Amy Driskell and colleagues of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA found the broad-billed fairywren and Campbell's fairywren to lie in a clade with the two other monospecific New Guinea genera and not with the other species of Malurus. Hence they recommend reclassifying them within the genus Chenorhamphus. The study also showed high divergence between the two subspecies and has recommended they be resplit into separate species.
Family MaluridaeSubfamily: Malurinae
Lovely fairywren, Malurus amabilis
Variegated fairywren, Malurus lamberti
Blue-breasted fairywren, Malurus pulcherrimus
Red-winged fairywren, Malurus elegans
Superb fairywren, Malurus cyaneus
Splendid fairywren, Malurus splendens
Purple-crowned fairywren, Malurus coronatus
Red-backed fairywren, Malurus melanocephalus
White-winged fairywren, Malurus leucopterus
White-shouldered fairywren, Malurus alboscapulatus
Emperor fairywren, Malurus cyanocephalus
Broad-billed fairywren, Chenorhamphus grayi
Campbell's fairywren, Chenorhamphus campbelli
Wallace's fairywren, Sipodotus wallacii
Orange-crowned fairywren, Clytomyias insignis
Southern emu-wren, Stipiturus malachurus
Mallee emu-wren, Stipiturus mallee
Rufous-crowned emu-wren, Stipiturus ruficeps
Grey grasswren, Amytornis barbatus
Black grasswren, Amytornis housei
White-throated grasswren, Amytornis woodwardi
Carpentarian grasswren, Amytornis dorotheae
Short-tailed grasswren, Amytornis merrotsyi
Striated grasswren, Amytornis striatus
Eyrean grasswren, Amytornis goyderi
Western grasswren, Amytornis textilis
Thick-billed grasswren, Amytornis modestus
Dusky grasswren, Amytornis purnelli
Kalkadoon grasswren, Amytornis ballarae