The Malleefowl (Leipoa ocellata) is one of the few large mound building birds remaining. With its mallee woodland habitat cleared decades ago for farming and populations decimated by predators such as the fox, the Malleefowl is now rarely seen in the wild.

At two of Conservation Volunteers Australia’s properties — Brookfield Conservation Park in South Australia and Little Desert Lodge and Malleefowl Sanctuary in Victoria, these striking birds are still able to go about their remarkable efforts to build large mounds in which they incubate their eggs.

Species: Malleefowl (Leipoa ocellata)
Location: Semi arid and arid Australia
Status: Vulnerable
Threats: predation, loss of habitat, inappropriate fire regimes
Our work: monitoring, habitat restoration, predator control, community education

Taking Action to conserve the Malleefowl

Snapshot 1 (18-10-2015 8-47 AM)

Malleefowl pair tending the nest, secure from predation at Conservation Volunteers Malleefowl Sanctuary,  Nhill Victoria –

Conservation Volunteers Australia is assisting the Victorian Malleefowl Recovery Group with surveys as well as maintaining areas of fox-free habitat to ensure that Malleefowl can thrive in some of its remaining strongholds.

Other vital conservation actions include:

  • Transect monitoring to discover and map active Malleefowl mounds
  • Predator proof fencing and ongoing habitat enhancement at the Little Desert Malleefowl Sanctuary
  • Weed removal to prevent shelter used by foxes and other predators

These conservation actions will enable Malleefowl to flourish in their natural environment, to increase numbers in captivity for future release and ensure that these amazing ground dwelling birds are protected from predators and habitat loss.

Description and Distribution

The Malleefowl is found in semi-arid to arid shrublands and low woodlands, especially those dominated by mallee and/or acacias. A sandy substrate and abundance of leaf litter are required for breeding. Densities of the birds are generally greatest in areas of higher rainfall and on more fertile soils where habitats tend to be thicker and there is an abundance of food plants. Much of the best habitat for Malleefowl has already been cleared or has been modified by grazing by sheep, cattle, rabbits and goats.

The Malleefowl is a large ground-dwelling bird with strong feet and a short bill. The head and neck are mostly grey, with a dark stripe extending down along foreneck from the throat to the upper breast, and the underparts are mostly creamy-coloured, but it is the upperparts that are most striking.


Download our factsheets to find out more about the Malleefowl, nocturnal Little Desert fauna and conserving Mallee habitat:

Conserving The Mallee

Nocturnal Fauna in the Mallee

Help save the Malleefowl

Working the mound

Malleefowl working the Mound at Conservation Volunteers Malleefowl Sanctuary

Together we are the difference … 

Help us to monitor and protect this amazing mound maker by donating to support our Malleefowl recovery program. Together we can ensure that the Malleefowl doesn’t disappear from the landscape forever!  We need your continued support to safeguard the survival of Malleefowl and their habitats along with other species across the country  – donate to help today!


Would you like to give the Malleefowl a wild future? You can do so by donating through our secure online system.


By volunteering on one of our field projects, you can make a practical contribution and help give the Malleefowl a wild future.

Partners in Conservation

Our work to help save the Malleefowl is supported by the following organisations and individuals including: the National Recovery Team and the Victorian Recovery Group

Find out more about becoming a partner with Conservation Volunteers

Further Information

For more information on how you can help the Malleefowl , see  the national recovery plan, or contact us