Within Maluridae, it is one of 12 species in the genus, Malurus. It is most closely related to a pair of Australian species, the red-backed and white-winged fairywrens, with which it makes up a phylogenetic clade. Termed the bicoloured wrens by ornithologist Richard Schodde, these three species are notable for their lack of head patterns and ear tufts and their uniform black or blue plumage with contrasting shoulder or wing colour; they replace each other geographically across northern Australia and New Guinea.
Six geographically isolated subspecies are recognised, found across the island of New Guinea. They are differentiated by the differences in female plumage, the males of all six are indistinguishable. The nominate subspecies is found on the Bird's Head Peninsula to the far west of the island, subspecies aida is found in northeastern Irian Jaya, subspecies lorentzi is found in southern Irian Jaya and the TransFly region of southwestern Papua New Guinea, subspecies naimii is found in central-northern Papua New Guinea, subspecies kutubu restricted to the highlands, and subspecies moretoni in the far east of the island.
The adult male is all shiny black but for a white shoulders (scapulars) – unlike the better-known Australian fairywrens there is no eclipse male plumage. The tail is shorter than other fairywrens. The bill is black, and the feet and eyes are black or dark brown. The female of subspecies alboscapulatus and naimii bears a pied plumage, with black upperparts, white shoulders and underparts.
The preferred habitats are lowland cleared areas; grassland, village gardens, and cane-grass.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Malurus alboscapulatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Simpson, D.P. (1979). Cassell's Latin Dictionary (5th ed.). London: Cassell Ltd. pp. 33, 537. ISBN 0-304-52257-0.
- Christidis L, Schodde R. 1997, "Relationships within the Australo-Papuan Fairywrens (Aves: Malurinae): an evaluation of the utility of allozyme data". Australian Journal of Zoology, 45 (2): 113–129.
- Schodde (1982), p. 31
- Rowley & Russell, p. 185.
- Rowley & Russell, p. 188.
- Rowley & Russell, p. 186.
- Rowley & Russell, p. 187.