Photographing the secret lives of splendid fairy-wrens

By Australian Geographic 9 March 2018
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Mark Eatwell’s photography and short videos of Western Australia’s splendid fairy-wrens are one-of-a-kind.

MARK EATWELL has made quite a name for himself in several bird photography circles. Fans of his work eagerly await what they call “Wrensday,” when Mark posts his latest footage of splendid fairy-wrens.

These birds are abundant in Mark’s semi-rural area of Bedfordale, located south-east of Perth in the Darling Ranges. During his regular walks through the Wungong Gorge he’s become more familiar with local birdlife and the activities of the fairy-wrens.

“They seem to love the water and streams around the dam.  There is plenty of bushland and shrubs for them to hide in as protection from larger birds and plenty of insects for them to eat.  It is a perfect habitat for them,” he tells Australian Geographic.


Rather than capturing just one bright blue bird, Mark is captivated by their tight-knit family structures and the way they play with each other, which is also what makes his photography and short videos so unique.

Mark’s latest video of a group of fairy-wrens preening each other went viral on social media, allowing audiences to see the wren’s behaviours up-close for the first time.

“I’ve watched the way they play and interact together, they like to do a mexican wave and play leapfrog.  They play chase, preen each other and snuggle up next to each other on a twig… They are family. ”


Mark says the first thing people notice and love about the fairy-wrens is their gorgeous colour, which he’s made an effort to document from season to season.

“I’ve observed their changes in colour, and noticed that when the males are in eclipse they are still identifiable by some blue on their wings and they look like they are wearing blue eye shadow.

“I love when the males are in their bright breeding colours, and how the other wrens huddle around to protect them as they can no longer camouflage themselves.”

Because Mark considers his photography of splendid fairy-wrens a hobby, he’s constantly blown away by people’s reactions.

“Knowing that my photos and videos have been appreciated and brought a moment of joy to a lot of people gives me a sense of accomplishment and a new enthusiasm for my photography.

“I find it incredible just how many people in different countries around the world have watched my videos and been touched by these tiny little blue wrens.

You can see more of Mark’s photography below.

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