click for info on pic Home Page Mallee Fowl

Leipoa ocellata (oh'-sel-ah'-tah: "eye-marked egg-leaver" [i.e., marked with eye-like spots]) The Mallee Fowl is a Megapod and a large sedentary bird Their name "Mallee" comes from the main district where they are found, (North East Victoria) which is also the name to describe the semi arid eucalypt woodland in the region (ie. Mallee Scrub)

click for info on pic DESCRIPTION
The Mallee Fowl is a large bird (even plump looking) around 15 kg on average and up to 600mm in length Their colouring is a range of mottles Grey, Brown, Tan & Black with a white to grey throat and underbelly with a dark bill Their average life span is 30 years They make mainly a booming noise which comes from the male (territorial)

Location This megapod has adapted to the harsh conditions of semi arid "scrub land" in Southern Australia which is very dry low eucalypt woodland. They live and move on the ground but can also be found "roosting" in low bushes

The Mallee Fowl is a solitary bird as the male is nest bound while the female searches for food to help her produce eggs They do mate for life and both male and female are sedentary with the male being strongly territorial around its mound (nest) site They tend to roost at night in low bushes when not tending the mound You have to be very quiet and patient to spot one in the scrub, as they are very shy

These birds do not need to drink from surface water. They feed on seeds (acacia & cassia shrubs), herbs, blossoms and insects such as cockroaches and beetles

click for info on pic The mound is built by the male He digs a hole in the ground I meter deep and up to 4 or 5 meters in diameter He then collects leaves and twigs and drops them into the hole until he actually has a mound which is about 1 1/2 meters higher than the surrounding ground level. The male Mallee Fowl then excavates an "egg chamber" into the mound Rain then wets all the twigs and leaves etc. (This is important as this fermentation of decaying material gives the heat to the inside of the mound) The bird then coves the mound with sand and dirt to help the decaying process and to keep the heat in During the breeding season September to April the female returns and lays one egg at a time (up to 35 in total usually around 20) into the egg chamber that the male has uncovered for her.

click for info on pic He recovers each egg individually. For the eggs incubation period of 49 days the males job is to keep the egg chamber at 33 -34 degrees Celsius. But not all eggs are laid at the same time (often each one days apart), so he tends the mound for many months
click for info on pic He does this by either removing or adding soil to let heat out or trap more heat in or in removing some soil he also may let the sun warm up the inside of the mound or adding soil to the mound can protect it from the sun.

By putting his beak into the mound the male Mallee Fowl is able to judge the temperature of the mound When the chick is born it digs its own way out of the mound and must take care of its self, find its own food and is able to fly within 24 hours. Mortality rate of young Mallee fowl is very high They repair and reuse the mound each breeding season so the mound often grows in size each year

PRESERVATION click for info on pic
These birds are highly threatened due to the following reasons :

#) Grazing of sheep take away their food source
#) Wild Rabbits eat their seeds etc as well
#) Loss of habitat due to wheat farming
#) Hunted by foxes, man and feral cats
#) Burning off (loss of leaf litter with which to build their mounds)
#) Salinity of the land is rising effecting plant growth


Mallefowl Preservation group Malleefowl Preservation Group (Western Australian based)

Victorian malleefowl Recovery group Victorian Malleefowl Recovery Group

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