Habitat: Grassland


Plains-wanderers are confined to native grasslands, where they have very specific requirements. To support the species, the structure of these grasslands needs to have short grass (<5cm tall) growing in patches or clumps (50% vegetative cover), with areas of bare soil between the clumps, and small amounts of vegetative litter on the ground. If the grass becomes too long or too dense, it becomes unsuitable; similarly, if it becomes too sparse, it also becomes uninhabitable for Plains-wanderers.


When walking, Plains-wanderers often stop regularly to survey their surroundings, standing upright on tiptoes with the neck upstretched. When alarmed, they either crouch among the grass, where they are perfectly camouflaged by their highly cryptic plumage, or they may quickly run away, hunched with their head and neck held down and forward. They seldom fly.

Plains-wanderers were previously thought to be active only at night, but they are now known to feed and preen during daylight hours and twilight.


Plains-wanderers forage on the ground, mainly eating seeds and invertebrates such as spiders, beetles and caterpillars. They feed during the day and into the twilight, but not at night.


Plains-wanderers usually lay four stone-coloured eggs with many spots and squiggles. They are laid in a depression in the ground, scratched out by the female, sometimes with a canopy of grass pulled over the top of it. The male does most (or potentially all) of the incubation, and looks after the chicks when they hatch.