A small bird with a long tail that is held cocked. Breeding males are mostly black with red back and rump. Nonbreeding males and females are extremely similar—both are pale brownish birds with brown tails. Their plumage has a warmer, browner tone than female Superb Fairywren. Red-backed Fairywrens are found in grasslands, swamps, and areas with long grass around tropical northern Australia and around the east coast into northern New South Wales.