Critically endangered bird found a long way from home

A CRITICALLY endangered bird has been found in a suburban Bendigo backyard, almost 100 kilometres from its usual habitat.

The Plains-wanderer was spotted by an Epsom resident at a Strickland Street address last week.

Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning biodiversity program manager Jill Fleming said the resident recognised the bird was unusual and caught it.

They then contacted a wildlife carer, who gave the bird to the department on Wednesday afternoon.

“Plains-wanderers are usually found in the Patho Plains or Avoca Plains north of Bendigo so we’re a bit puzzled about how this particular bird got to Bendigo,” Ms Fleming said.

“Plains-wanderers are poor flyers but there is the possibility it was blown here during recent storms.”

The bird is now in the hands of the Werribee Open Range Zoo.

“Unfortunately, Plains-wanderer populations have significantly declined in the wild in recent years so Zoos Victoria is establishing a captive breeding program to help the recovery of this iconic species,” zoo keeper Yvette Pauligk said

“It’s an exciting program and a massive team effort involving many organisations and landholders working together across state borders on the recovery program. 

“We are lucky to have so many passionate and dedicated people caring for this species and ensuring its survival.”

The Plains-wanderer, or Pedionomus torquatus, is quail-like with fawn feathers and black rosettes. The female is brighter with a white spotted black collar above a reddish breast patch. 

The bird was listed as critically endangered under the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act in 2016.

“DELWP is doing lots of work with many partners including Parks Victoria, Trust for Nature and local landholders to increase and improve habitat for these rare birds and to monitor populations in the field,” Ms Fleming said.

The Victorian government recently committed $500,000 to Plains-wanderer and grasslands projects as part of the $25.66 million Biodiversity On-Ground action initiative