© Kim Wormald

Quick Facts

  • OFFICIAL NAME: Malleefowl (Leipoa ocellata)
  • FAMILY: Megapodiidae (mound builders)
  • STATE CONSERVATION STATUS: Endangered in NSW: Critically Endangered in NT: Vulnerable in SA: Endangered in VIC: Vulnerable in WA
  • SURVIVING POPULATION: Approximately 100,000 individuals
What Is Awc Doing Kim Wormald Malleefowl © Kim Wormald

What is AWC doing?

AWC is protecting populations of Malleefowl and their habitat at Yookamurra, Scotia and Mt Gibson sanctuaries and at Mallee Cliffs National Park.

AWC’s ecologists monitor Malleefowl mounds annually to assess breeding activity, contributing to the national recovery effort for the species. AWC is currently undertaking a major LiDAR mapping project in partnership with the NSW Government to identify the locations of Malleefowl mounds across 200,000 hectares of high-value habitat in far-western NSW. AWC undertakes a range of land management activities to protect Malleefowl including buying land to prevent habitat loss, habitat management such as strategic fire management and weed control, along with control of feral predators and feral herbivores.

Threats To Wildlife Awc Malleefowl © AWC

Threats to Species

The main threat to Australia’s Malleefowl population has been habitat loss and fragmentation due to agriculture, mining, roads and inappropriate fire regimes.

Introduced predators such as foxes and feral cats, together with competition for food resources with introduced herbivores (sheep, rabbits, cattle, goats) has also contributed to the species’ decline.

Vulnerable Jane Palmer


With a cream-white breast and belly, Malleefowl feature a greyish head and neck with a white stripe under the eye, and distinct grey, black and white banding across their body and wings.


Malleefowl require habitat that has been unburnt for 40-60 years. Habitats of this time-since-fire age class have sufficient leaf litter on the ground for Malleefowl to use to build their incubation mounds. They’re omnivorous, scraping the leaf litter as they walk through the mallee woodlands to expose seeds, flowers and buds, small invertebrates and lerps.

Malleefowl are monogamous, mating for life, and lay their eggs in a nest formed in a crater in a mound of leaf litter and soil raked in from the surrounding area with the birds’ feet. The mound generates heat to incubate the eggs, and the parents regulate the temperature of the mound by scraping material on or off. When the eggs hatch, the Malleefowl chicks can leave the mound unaided.

Range and Abundance

Malleefowl occur in semi-arid woodlands dominated by multi-stemmed ‘mallee’ Eucalypt species. Their range extends a great distance across southern Australia from Western Victoria to South West Western Australia, however due to severe habitat loss and other threats many populations across this range are contracting and are now reduced to isolated areas of remnant habitat.

Sanctuaries Where You Can Find the Malleefowl

© Wayne Lawler/AWC
New South Wales

Mallee Cliffs National Park

Spanning over 58,000 hectares in western New South Wales, Mallee Cliffs National Park contains one of the largest feral-proof fences...

© Brad Leue/AWC
Western Australia

Mt Gibson

Mt Gibson Wildlife Sanctuary protects a large area of diverse habitat in the south of Western Australia. As the site...

Wayne Lawler
New South Wales


“Scotia Wildlife Sanctuary … a vitally important project for Australia and for the planet.” – Sir David Attenborough Scotia Wildlife...

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Latest News from the Field

Wayne Lawler/AWC
Wayne Lawler/AWC
Feature 18 Jun. 2024