SPECIES: Stipiturus malachurus parimeda — Southern Emu Wren


This week we give a little love to the Southern Emu Wren. Already a threatened species, bushfires on Kangaroo Island have taken a further toll to the small number of these birds that remain.

Would you recognise a Southern Emu Wren if one flew, hopped or scrambled right past you? The Southern Emu Wren is a small bird, with a stick-like tail of six feathers. It's called an 'Emu' wren because its tail feathers are 'emu-like'. Their plumage is olive-grey or brown-grey, it has brown streaking across its head, neck and back and it has a white belly. The male has a distinctive large patch of light or sky blue on its chin, throat and upper breast and a stripe above its eye, that the female does not have.

Ironically, being a bird, the Southern Emu Wren is not very skilled at flying and instead tends to hop or scramble - like a mouse - through scrubland and habitat. It might be able to fly for perhaps a few metres at best, if it can manage.

The disastrous fires on Kangaroo Island have almost certainly had a devastating impact on the subpopulations of Southern Emu Wrens on the Island. For birds in general, fire is very deadly. Birds become disoriented and overcome by the smoke, unable to escape to safety. Their biggest threats: wildfire, loss of habitat, habitat fragmentation/isolation. All three of these threats and more are in play right now for those Southern Emu Wrens left after the fires on Kangaroo Island.

FAME is committed to helping save endangered species, like the Southern Emu Wren as one of our focusses through our Bushfire Appeal. Find out more and donate at

Photo: JJ Harrison ( - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

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