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Pedionomus torquatus
Photo by Vik Dunis (Bushpea)

Common name:
Plains-wanderer (en); corre-planícies (pt); pédionome errant (fr); torillo australiano (es); steppenläufer (de)

Order Charadriiformes
Family Pedionomidae

This species is endemic to Australia, being restricted to small patches of favourable habitat in the Riverina region of New South Wales, in northern Victoria, in south-western Queensland and in north-eastern South Australia.

These birds are 15-19 cm long and have a wingspan of 28-36 cm. males tend to be smaller than females, weighing 40-80 g while females weigh 55-95 g.

Plains-wanderers are found in sparse, native grasslands, usually in areas of red-brown clay soils. They may occasionally be also found in stubble, low cereal crops and scrublands.

They eat seeds, invertebrates and leaves. The seeds include those of grasses such as Austrotipa, Sporobilis, Panicum, Austrodanthonia, Vulpia and Eragrostis, chenopods such as Atriplex, Maireana, Chenopodium and Sclerolaena, and other plants such as Asperula, Galium, Spergularia, Carthamus and Euphorbia. The invertebrates are mostly beetles, ants, bugs, caterpillars, locusts and spiders.

The plains-wanderer has possibly a polyandrous mating system, with each female mating with several males. The breed all year round and the nest is a hollow or scrape that is scratched into the ground and lined with grasses. There the female lays 2-5 eggs, which the male incubates alone for 23 days. The chicks leave the nest soon after hatching, but remain with the male until becoming fully independent, 2 month after hatching.

IUCN status – EN (Endangered)
This species has a restricted and highly fragmented breeding range, and the global population is estimated at just 2.400-8.000 individuals. The population is suspected to be declining due to the cultivation of native grasslands, high levels of grazing, pesticide use and predation by the introduced red fox Vulpes vulpes.

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