A critically endangered Plains-wanderer (Pedionomus torquatus) has been found in suburban Bendigo, almost 100 kilometres from its usual habitat in the northern Victorian grasslands.

Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) program Manager Biodiversity Jill Fleming said a wildlife carer gave the bird to the Department on Wednesday.

“A resident of Strickland Street in Epsom saw an unusual bird in their backyard, caught it then contacted the wildlife carer who identified it as a Plains-wanderer and handed it to DELWP,” said Ms Fleming.

“The Plains-wanderer is often described as quail-like with fawn feathers and black rosettes.  The female is brighter with a white spotted black collar above a reddish breast patch.

“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.

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

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

“We’ve given the bird to Werribee Open Range Zoo so she is in good hands.”

Werribee Open Range Zoo Keeper, Yvette Pauligk, said the first priority is to make sure the bird is healthy.

“We’ll transport her back to the Zoo and give her a full health check to make sure she is in good condition and feeding well.

“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.  

“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,” Ms Pauligk said.

The Plains-wanderer was recently revised and listed as Critically Endangered under the Commonwealth Government’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act in 2016.