WREN ROMANCE: Male red-backed fairy-wren offering the female a red berry.
WREN ROMANCE: Male red-backed fairy-wren offering the female a red berry. Contributed

BRIGGSY'S BIRDS: A 'romantic' resident of grasslands

THE red-backed fairy-wren is a small colourful bird that lives in grassy areas and is almost always seen close to the ground or in small shrubs where it feeds on insects.

When breeding, the male is jet black with a bright red saddle across it back and an erect black tail. The female is light brown above and white below with pale pink legs and bill.

In non-breeding, the male looks similar to the female.

The male is very romantic and is known to pick red petals and fruit and offer them to the female in an apparent act of courtship.

However, the female does not remain faithful to her chosen partner but will mate with other males with the result that the eggs in the nest are fathered by several different males.

The female incubates the eggs and once hatched the nestlings are fed by both the male and female as well as helpers from an extended family group.

They will often be seen in small flocks foraging through grassy areas with one colourful male, several females, other males in non-breeding plumage and young birds.

You can see these birds in parks around Gladstone, along grassy road verges, in Lantana thickets and in gardens.

Allan Briggs is secretary of BirdLife Capricornia. Send your bird questions to abriggs@irock.com.au.