Monday, March 11, 2013

Getting to know a bird. Emu-wren.

Southern Emu-wren Stipiturus malachurus to be more precise.

Southern Emu-wren (male), Yambuk
The Port Fairy Folk Festival has become an annual March pilgrimage for us. In the last three years I have visited the Yambuk lakes area and / or Deen Maar and have managed to hook up with this quirky little bird.

This has been a learning experience from scratch.

1st year - didn't know what was seen until checked photos (my gosh that tail)!
2nd year - expected to see them. 'Knew where to look but had fleeting contact with one bird only.

On this year's visit I was just about to declare a disappointing "dip" when I was alerted by a call and flutter of foliage. In the ensuing 20 minutes a family of 3-4 emu-wren tormented me (and I in turn probably tormented them!) as they moved largely unseen around the reeds and heath.

So I have learnt the following about Southern emu-wren:

  • They are extremely difficult to photograph!
  • They are quite happy to hang around the observer - however the only observations are of moving foliage!
  • Noting sufficient discerning features for ID may take a while!
  • On the ground or lower branches of heath, emu-wren are confident in their obscurity and may even approach (you just won't see them).
  • A bird in flight may give quite a buzz! - just to see the bird in full view with it's ridiculous trailing tail! Of course too brief and too much head rush to contemplate even trying to photograph the thing.
  • They seem unlikely to get more than 60cm off the ground (this may help me quickly sort out next time some of the 100+ fairy-wren sightings before the first emu-wren)

Anyway some pictures. I think I'm inclined to waffle more when the photos are lousy!....

Show's over, I'm off! (It was a very brief show)
Another typically difficult view of a male bird. At least the tail feathers can be made out.
From what can be seen of this bird I think we may have female.

Bird on!


  1. Good on you for persevering! A cracker of a bird that I've only seen once myself.

  2. this bird is spectacular with such a long tail; I have seen it in a birding newsletter. Never mind, it's not as if you can say, a little to the left please and come forward two steps. Birding is a challenge always and it certainly gets us right in. Your photos are delightful Pete. And thank you for your answer to my ID needed yesterday; I've added that info' and comment back; also link to your site on my blog this morning. Much appreciated.