Plains-wanderer

On the brink of extinction, these birds evolved around 60 million years ago, when Australia was connected to America

JJ Harrison

Exclusively, 250 to 1,000 of these tiny, ground-dwelling birds remain in the wild today, and they are found only in the desert grasslands of south-eastern Australia. Although it has lankier legs and a more refined beak than a quail, the Plains Wanderer is a closer cousin of gulls and coastal birds.

Plains Wanderers are little fawn-colored birds that blend in perfectly with the plains of dry Australia, standing 12-15cm (4.7-5.9 in) tall and weighing 40 to 95 grams (1.4-3.9 oz). Their variegated feathers have spots and streaks on the head and neck and white and blackish markings.
Small dispersed populations have survived in western Victoria, eastern South Australia, and the western Riverina area of NSW, where they were originally distributed from Victoria to Queensland.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Australia
250-1,000
Official estimate
EN
2022

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No