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Plains-wanderer

Pedionomus torquatus

The plains-wanderer, Pedionomus torquatus, is a unique avian species, the sole representative of its family, Pedionomidae, and genus, Pedionomus. This quail-like ground bird, endemic to Australia, is distinguished by its atypical characteristics, which have merited its placement in a family all of its own. Adult males exhibit a light brown plumage on their upper parts, while their underparts are fawn-white, adorned with black crescents. In contrast, the adult female is notably larger and sports a striking white-spotted black collar.

Identification Tips

When attempting to identify the plains-wanderer, look for their excellent camouflage which allows them to blend seamlessly into their surroundings. Upon disturbance, these birds will opt to hide rather than take flight. Should one draw too near, the plains-wanderer is more likely to run, utilizing its poor flying abilities only as a last resort.

Habitat

The plains-wanderer favors grasslands that offer a mix of open and denser vegetation, which are crucial for their foraging and roosting activities.

Distribution

The majority of the remaining population of plains-wanderers is concentrated in the Riverina region of New South Wales, Australia.

Behaviour

These ground-nesting birds exhibit a strong preference for running over flying when faced with threats. Their terrestrial lifestyle and nesting habits render them particularly vulnerable to predation.

Breeding

The breeding process of the plains-wanderer involves the female laying a clutch of four eggs, which the male is then responsible for incubating.

Conservation status

Globally, the plains-wanderer is classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List as of 2022. Within Australia, their status varies by state, ranging from Endangered to Critically Endangered, reflecting the species' precarious situation and the urgent need for conservation measures.

Conservation efforts

In response to their declining numbers, a captive population was established in 2018 at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo. This initiative aims to create an insurance population through a breed-and-release program, bolstering the wild population as part of a national conservation strategy for the species.

The plains-wanderer's continued existence is imperiled by habitat loss due to agricultural expansion and predation by introduced species such as the fox. Conservation areas identified as important for their survival include locations in South Australia, Queensland, Victoria, and New South Wales.

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Plains-wanderers on Birda

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Profile picture for Bryn Pickering
Bryn Pickering
24 Apr 2022 - 6:47pm
Australia
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