Once upon a time there was a little bird named Goldilocks that wandered Australia’s plains. The plains wanderer is very cute little critter that’s unlike any other bird in the world.
YVETTE PAULIGK, NATIVE LIFE SCIENCES MANAGER: Yeah, when you mention a plains wanderer, not many people know what you’re talking about. So, we do say think of a quail, but also, they’re completely different from a quail.
It got the nickname Goldilocks because like the storybook character, it’s a bit fussy.
YVETTE PAULIGK, NATIVE LIFE SCIENCES MANAGER: They don’t like grass too thick because they can’t walk through it. But they don’t like grass too thin because they can easily get taken by predators.
Goldilocks here isn’t very good at flying. Instead, it relies on its fluffy coat to help it hide. Most of the time, they’re just running around on the ground.
YVETTE PAULIGK, NATIVE LIFE SCIENCES MANAGER: If they see an aerial predator, they’ll quickly flatten themselves, make themselves invisible and they blend into the ground so well.
But that “just right” grass is getting harder and harder to come by.
YVETTE PAULIGK, NATIVE LIFE SCIENCES MANAGER: Yeah, there natural habitat, there’s not a lot left of it unfortunately which is one of the big issues.
One big problem is habitat loss because of land clearing for farming or developments – along with climate change. Grazing is another problem. Cows, sheep, and rabbits eat away at the grass, leaving the birds vulnerable to predators. Cats and foxes that are the main threats to threat to the Plains Wanderer. But conservationists around Australia have been helping to turn the page for this species. Like at Werribee Zoo in Victoria, where a bird’s sanctuary has been created. They’ve bred 30 adorable chicks in the past few years and released some into the wild.
YVETTE PAULIGK, NATIVE LIFE SCIENCES MANAGER: We’ve released a total of 16 birds. Eight of those were from Victoria Captive Institutions and the other 8 were from NSW.
Meanwhile for the first time in NSW ten chicks which were bred at Taronga Zoo have just been released into the wild. Local farmers have been helping to create a new home for the plains-wanderers, which is just right by reducing stock grazing the area.
The hope is that in the future more birds will be released, and their population will grow.
YVETTE PAULIGK, NATIVE LIFE SCIENCES MANAGER: What I’d like is for everyone to know what a plains wanderer is, have them in our backyard and to know they’re incredibly unique and we should be proud of that.