Werribee, Melbourne , Australia
The Superb Fairywren is one of 12 species of the genus Malurus, commonly known as fairywrens, found in Australia and lowland New Guinea. Within the genus, the Superb Fairywren’s closest relative is the Splendid Fairywren; these two “Blue wrens” are also related to the Purple-crowned Fairywren of northwestern Australia.
William Anderson, surgeon and naturalist on Captain James Cook’s third voyage, collected the first Superb Fairywren specimen in 1777 while traveling off the coast of eastern Tasmania, in Bruny Island’s Adventure Bay. He named it Motacilla cyanea because its tail reminded him of the European Wagtails of the genus Motacilla. Anderson did not live to publish his findings, although his assistant William Ellis described the bird in 1782. The genus Malurus was later described by Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot in 1816, giving the bird its current scientific name.