Recovering Mallee birds

Why are Mallee birds under threat?

The recovering Mallee birds project focuses on woodland bird species of conservation concern found in the Murraylands and Riverland landscapes. These include:

  • black-eared miner
  • Mallee emu-wren
  • Malleefowl
  • red-lored whistler
  • regent parrot
  • striated grasswren
  • western whipbird.

While each species has their own unique threats, this project seeks to address the threats of habitat fragmentation from over-grazing, introduced predators, and fire. Mallee woodland birds need diverse and healthy vegetation to provide food, cover from predators and nesting sites. High numbers of native and introduced herbivores such as rabbits, feral goats and kangaroos grazing in these areas prevent regeneration and maintain a simple vegetation structure. This leaves many birds without sufficient habitat to survive.

Herbivores continue to be attracted to these areas for two reasons:

1) the plant regeneration following bushfires provides food, and

2) man-made dams built for previous pastoral use provide a reliable water source in the Mallee landscape.

What is the recovering Mallee birds project?

The Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board is working to protect and restore areas of mallee habitat within the Murraylands and Riverland region to secure and expand the populations and distributions of woodland bird species. Importantly the project also aims to increase scientific understanding and general awareness among land managers and the broader community about these bird species and their needs.

More intact ecosystems are more resilient to pressures and stresses and more adaptable to climate variability. The recovering Mallee birds project uses an integrated approach when addressing threats that are common to multiple Mallee bird species to help the ecosystem to function better as a whole.

The project concentrates on large, relatively continuous areas of native vegetation that have greater potential for sustainable function to be restored. These landscapes include a combination of public and privately owned conservation areas, much of which has been retired from pastoral grazing.

What is being done?

Our understanding of threatened Mallee bird distributions and population trends will be improved through analysing existing data and conducting new surveys. This project will also improve our knowledge of the impact of predators and the effectiveness of predator control methods on malleefowl.

On-ground works for this project include:

  • undertaking a strategic herbivore control program, including the removal of feral goats from major infested areas and immigration routes across 75,000 hectares
  • improving habitat by direct seeding and encouraging revegatation on sites where pastoral dams have been decommissioned.
  • decommissioning former pastoral dams by flattening them so they no longer hold water
  • strategic rolling of fire-breaks to reduce fire risks to mallee bird population and promote habitat diversity.

Lead agency

Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board


Australian Landscape Trust, Murray Mallee Local Action Planning, National Malleefowl Recovery Group Inc, Birdlife Australia and RLB Ecology.

Funding partners

This project is supported by the Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

Recovering Mallee birds

Bulldozers for conservation

Image gallery

More information

Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board

Unit 5-6, Level 1 Sturt Centre, 2 Sturt Reserve Road, Murray Bridge SA 5253

08 8532 9100