What is a Malleefowl?

The Malleefowl (Leipoa ocellata) is one of the few large mound building birds remaining. With its mallee woodland habitat cleared decades ago for farming and populations impacted by predators such as the fox, the Malleefowl is now rarely seen in the wild.

Malleefowl were once common and widespread throughout southern Australia, but in the last century their numbers have declined significantly. They have completely disappeared from a number of areas and the bird is listed as vulnerable under the EPBC Act and likely to become extinct under the WA Wildlife conservation Act..

What do they look like?

Malleefowl are large ground-dwelling birds. The mottled grey, brown, tan and black feathers offer effective camouflage. Their white throat has a vertical black streak and their underbelly is white or light brown. There are not easily identifiable differences between male and female, although males are slightly larger than females.

The Malleefowl mound

The Species has been described as one of the worlds hardest working birds. Malleefowl spend up to ten months of the year digging and maintaining the mound with their large and powerful feet.The eggs are laid in the mound, buried and incubated by heat from the sun and  decomposing leaves and twigs that surrounds the incubation chamber. The female lays between 20 and 30 eggs, one at a time every 3 to 7 days.As the chicks hatch they have to wriggle their way up to the top of the mound and once they emerge they must survive entirely on their own.

What is their Habitat?

Malleefowl are found in semi-arid to arid shrublands and low woodlands dominated by mallee and or acacia. In WA the species currently have a somewhat patchy distribution within the central and eastern wheatbelt, southern rangelands and the great southern, from Peron Peninsula to the coastal strip of the southern Nullarbor Plain.

What is their diet?

Malleefowl feed on insects, seeds, (including cultivated grain), berries, native herbs and flowers. They do not need much to drink, living during summer without surface water.

What threatens their survival?

Climate Change
Climate change
Land Clearing
Loss and fragmentation of habitat is the primary threat to Malleefowl populations.
Foxes and cats predate Malleefowl, particularly chicks. Raptors and goannas have been known to hunt chicks.
Road Kills
Drivers should be aware in designated ‘caution malleefowl’ areas as the birds are quite slow moving when on the road and this results in birds being killed by vehicles.
Grazing by stock, feral goats, rabbits and kangaroos severely reduce habitat quality for malleefowl.
Wildfire and intentional burning
As malleefowl favour Mcountry with a dense shrub layer and plenty of ground litter, wildfire is also a key threat to the species.

What you can do

Together we can ensure that the Malleefowl doesn’t disappear from the landscape forever!  We need your continued support to safeguard the survival of Malleefowl and their habitats along with other species across the country. The long term survival of the malleefowl depends on having volunteers to help with the field work of searching and monitoring mounds on an annual basis.Help us to monitor and protect this amazing mound maker by signing up online.