Plains-wanderers are small ground-dwelling birds with a lanky appearance and distinctive, upright posture. There are between 2500 and 8000 birds left and there is concern that some populations may be too small to remain viable.
Camouflaged against the dry grasses and reddish soils of their habitat, Plains-wanderers are very difficult to see during the day. They have long, yellow legs and mottled brown plumage. Females have a beautiful black and white collar pattern and a patch of rusty-coloured feathers on their breasts.
Plains-wanderers prefer sparse grasslands with a combination of bare ground and low plant cover. Invasive agricultural plants create terrain that is too dense for the birds, while heavy grazing keeps plants too low to provide protection from predators.
Female Plains-wanderers lay about four eggs in the nest, then leave the male to incubate and raise the chicks.
Despite appearing and behaving like a quail, the Plains-wanderer is actually more closely related to wading birds in South America. This strange relationship is the result of the connection of the two continents as part of Gondwana more than 60 million years ago.
A recovery plan for this species includes protecting habitat from cultivation and weed invasion and securing a strong population in Victoria.