17 Amaze-wing Facts About The Malleefowl For Kids

Malleefowl facts tell us about their nesting habits

Are you fascinated by ground-nesting birds like the guinea fowls or Indian peafowls? Then here we have all the information on the malleefowl bird. Malleefowl (Leipoa ocellata) is a ground-dwelling and ground-nesting bird that is native to Australia, mainly South and Western Australia. These birds are mostly found around scrub and forest habitats where there's an abundance of mallee eucalypts. Their breeding season occurs around the months of September to February. During this time, males find the perfect spot to build a nest. The nests or mounds are large in size, and the female lays eggs in the center of it, where the male changes the soil and sand many times to keep the heat of the nest to an optimum level. The incubation period also depends on this heat. These chicks that are born are precocial and become independent quickly after their birth. The feathers of these birds have a beautiful color combination. The feet, head, neck, and legs are gray, but the wings are mottled and barred. The species has been declared Vulnerable and is facing many threats to its population.

Read on to know more about the malleefowl birds, and if you like this article, then also check out bowebird and vulturine guineafowl.


Fact File

What do they prey on?

Insects and small invertebrates

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

30 eggs

How much do they weigh?

5.5 lb (2.5 kg)

How long are they?

21.6-23.6 in (54.8-60 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Cream, black, rufous, gray

Skin Type


What are their main threats?

Humans and predators

What is their conservation status?


Where you'll find them

Semi-arid to arid scrubs and forests abundant of mallee eucalypts


New South Wales, Victoria of South, Western Australia





Scientific Name

Leipoa ocellata





Malleefowl Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a malleefowl?

Malleefowl (Leipoa ocellata) is an Australasian species of bird.

What class of animal does a malleefowl belong to?

Malleefowl bird belongs to the class Aves of animals.

How many malleefowl are there in the world?

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the population of these Australian birds falls somewhere around 150000 individuals. Over 50 years, around 30-49% decrease in the population of these birds were seen around South and western Australia. Over the last decade or so, some increase in their population has been seen in New South Wales and Victoria, but it's not nearly enough to salvage the low global population number.

Where does a malleefowl live?

The geographical range of these birds once used to be all around Australia. However, due to the decline in population, the primary geographical range of the malleefowl has become south Australia and western Australia in a somewhat scattered distribution. These birds are endemic to Australia. Owing to the decline of the population, the range of these birds has gone down a great deal in Western Australia and South Australia. However, over the last few decades, their numbers have gone up a little in Victoria and New South Wales. These birds are not known to migrate, so they can be seen within their range throughout the year.

What is a malleefowl's habitat?

The primary habitats of the malleefowl are forests that are abundant in Acacia or Mallee eucalypts and semi-arid to arid scrubs. The breeding of these birds occurs in a great number where the soil hasn't burned in any way for decades, and it's rich due to having a good amount of rainfall. This species also needs leaf litter and sandy substrate to breed.

Who do malleefowl live with?

Malleefowl birds forage and roost alone, but they are known to live in pairs. The pairs find a suitable place to live and are maybe territorial.

How long does a malleefowl live?

Malleefowl birds live comparatively for a long time. They can live up to about 28 long years.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding season of the malleefowl birds occurs during the months of September to February, depending on the rainfall in the area. These birds are monogamous, meaning they mate for life. Not much is known about the courtship behavior of the species. Come spring, the male starts to find a suitable place for a nest, where there's an abundance of sand and leaf litter on the ground and in between mallee trees. Their nesting process is very methodical. The center of the nest mounds is filled with leaf litter, and the parents depend upon the decaying matter to produce enough heat to incubate the eggs. The male continues to change the soil or sand many times to keep the temperature of the mound at an optimum level. The female at this time lays eggs or helps the male with digging. The female bird lays about 30 eggs per season. The incubation period of the mounds varies with temperature, and it is usually around 50-100 days till the chicks hatch. After the chicks hatch, they are usually precocial. These chicks can run and fly pretty well, considering that they are newborns. No records of parental care for the chicks after the eggs hatch is known.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the malleefowl birds, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, is listed as Vulnerable. The population distribution of these birds has been declining, and measures are being taken on a national level to prevent that. Many non-government groups are working towards preserving the species. Keeping a count of the mounds, as well as the birds, is being done. Some areas have been fenced to keep them safe from predation, and captive breeding has been started to increase their numbers.

Malleefowl Fun Facts

What do malleefowl look like?

Malleefowl (Leipoa ocellata) birds are large and stocky birds that resemble the size of a domestic chicken. The neck, feet, legs, and head of these birds are gray. It has strong feet and legs. A stripe-like dark-colored marking can be seen on the throat of the species. They have a white-colored stripe under their eyes. The bill is short and blackish. The underparts of their body are cream-colored, and the upper parts, especially the wings, are beautiful. The upper parts of the wings are a combination of barring, mottled variegation of cream, black, rufous, and gray colors.

Malleefowl lives around mallee eucalypt trees.

How cute are they?

These Australian birds can seem extremely cute with their short bill and stocky built bodies. They are also a shy species. They will freeze if they sense you around, and if chased, they will run and hide. They are expert at hiding, and the color of their feathers help with that. They are not aggressive at all. These traits certainly add to their charm.

How do they communicate?

Malleefowl birds communicate vocally. They make various kinds of sounds. Such as, when the pair is at the nest together, they make a soft 'cluck' sound. They also practice a round of sound, like a duet where one goes right after the other calls. When feeling threatened, they make a sharp grunt-like sound, and when protecting the territory, the male makes loud calls. Females, on the other hand, make high-pitched grunt-like sounds.

How big is a malleefowl?

On average, the size of a malleefowl is 21.6-23.6 in (54.8-60 cm). They are slightly shorter than tawny eagles, who are about 25.6-28.3 in (65-71.8 cm) in length.

How fast can a malleefowl fly?

Malleefowl birds can fly pretty well, but if they are chased or if they feel threatened in any way, they prefer to run. These birds can run at a fast speed. However, the speed at which these birds fly or run is not known.

How much does a malleefowl weigh?

Malleefowl birds can grow up to be about 5.5 lb (2.5 kg) in weight. However, the weight of some birds might be lower than that.

What are the male and female names of the species?

The male of the species is called a cock, and the female of the species is called a hen.

What would you call a baby malleefowl?

Babies of a malleefowl are called chicks, hatchlings, or nestlings.

What do they eat?

Malleefowl birds are omnivorous birds. These birds are opportunistic feeders. They will eat anything that is available seasonally and locally. In terms of plant matters, they feed on fruits, seeds flowers, herbs, fungi, and tubers. In terms of animal-based diets, they feed on small insects and invertebrates. If there's any agricultural land nearby, they even feed on the stubbles from there.

Are they dangerous?

These Australian birds are not dangerous at all. They are rarely aggressive. If cornered or threatened, their first instinct is flight. They will freeze first when they see anything strange; then, if they feel threatened by it, they will run off at a great speed. They are only aggressive when they are protecting the territory from birds of their own species or other birds. These birds are so shy that you might not be able to see them naturally most of the time.

Would they make a good pet?

These birds need a very specific environment to survive and to breed as well. They make big nests or mounds which are made of leaf litter, and they use sand to incubate their eggs. They eat anything and everything that comes their way, but they live around forests or scrubs where there's an abundance of mallee eucalypts. If you think of keeping them as pets, then these conditions for their required environment will be needed to meet properly, or else it might harm the birds. As the population of the birds is declining rapidly, many have taken to breeding them in captivity, so they are kept as pets by some people in Australia.

Did you know...

Malleefowl has an aboriginal name, by which it's known to people of the Central Desert of Australia. It's called 'Nganamara'.

What birds bury their eggs in the ground?

Many other birds, mainly belonging to the family of the malleefowl, the Megapodiidae family, don't incubate their eggs by their body, but rather the incubation happens by the temperature of the mound they build. Some of these birds are malleefowl, Moluccan megapode or Moluccan scrubfowl, dusky megapode, maleo, red-billed brushturkey, wattled brushturkey, Australian brushturkey, and more. There are many ground-nesting birds like the guinea fowls and Indian peafowls. These ground-dwelling birds can all be found within the Australasian region. These are all stocky birds that make a big nest mound in the ground, incubate their eggs in them by doing several things in order to maintain the heat.

Are malleefowl endangered?

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the malleefowl birds have been listed as a Vulnerable species, and their population is still declining. Some reasons for the low population are road-kill, poisoning by agricultural chemicals, infertility, habitat loss due to wildfire, conversion into agriculture, and predation of the chicks by foxes, feral cats, and wild dogs.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these rook bird facts and ring-billed gull facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable guinea fowl coloring pages.



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