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(Leipoa ocellata)
Alternate name(s): "Mallee Hen", "Pheasant*", "Native Pheasant*"
Aboriginal name(s): "lowan" ("low", "loan", "lawani"); "ngow", "ngowo" (SW WA);
"nganamara", "kalbanya", "leipoa", "nunnomutta"

Size: 55-60 cm
Weight: 1.5-2.2 kg
Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Malleefowl at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range


Click here for sighting information



Sex unknown

Near-frontal view of Malleefowl on its nest mound (photo courtesy of R. Brinsley)
[85 km West of Wentworth, NSW, August 2012]

Lateral view of Malleefowl crossing a dirt road (photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Near Pingaring, WA, October 2018]

Lateral view of Malleefowl taken in captivity (photo courtesy of M. Windeyer)

Breeding information

Breeding season: Sep - Mar Eggs: 10 - 35 Incubation period: 50 - 90 days Fledging age: N/A

Hatching chicks are "precocial"; they will leave the mound and be independent immediately, fending for themselves. This feature is common to all Australian mound nesters. It is the reason why one can find solitary youngsters (although, in the case of Malleefowl, in practice they are almost impossible to find).

Nest building: Male & female Incubation: Male & female Dependent care: N/A

While the males tend to the nest mounds, females tend to help, but are otherwise free to wander around to feed (and possibly also to mate with other males and lay their eggs into various mounds). Female Malleefowl need a lot of high-quality food when laying eggs, because - while the birds have a similar weight to domestic chickens - their eggs are 3-4 times as massive (ca. 210 g; while a 70-g chicken egg is "oversized"). Eggs are laid about 4-5 days apart (as opposed to about 1 egg per day in the case of chickens).


"bungobittah", "lar", "malunna", "jindi" [bundjalung] = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Mound Material: Sand, leaf litter, sticks, bark Height above ground: N/A

Lateral view of Malleefowl on its nest mound (photo courtesy of R. Brinsley)
[85 km West of Wentworth, NSW, August 2012]

Black-and-white photo of an active Malleefowl nest mound; the male was observed using its tongue to check the mound's temperature (photo courtesy of C. Lawrence)
[Hattah-Kulkyne NP, VIC, 1961]

Malleefowl nest mound (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Salt Creek, Coorong, SA, April 2022]

Inactive Malleefowl nest mound; this mound is about 4 m in diameter and about 0.4 m high
[Goonoo NP, between Dubbo and Mendooran, NSW, October 2015]


"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "mirk", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena", "pum-pum" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 90 x 60 mm Colour: Pinkish to light-brown Shape: Long elliptical


Social behaviour: Territorial Mobility: Sedentary Elementary unit: Pair

Malleefowl chicks are very well-developed when hatching. After digging themselves out of the nest mound, they need some time to preen (cases have been reported in which ants have cleaned emerging Malleefowl chicks!) and rest. The day after hatching, they are able to fly.

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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