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          Mallee Emu-wren

          Stipiturus mallee
          Maluridae

          Though confined to the Murray Mallee region of South Australia and Victoria, the range of the Mallee Emu-wren has shrunk in recent years after fires destroyed much of its restricted areas of habitat. There is now a concerted conservation effort underway to save the species, as another bushfire could see the Mallee Emu-wren edge closer to extinction.

          Identification

          Description

          The Mallee Emu-wren is a diminutive bird, up to 15 centimetres long, though its long filamentous tail is 1.5 times the length of its body. The male has a dull rufous cap, and the face is sky blue; this blue plumage extends onto the throat and upper breast to form a distinct bib. The upperparts are olive-brown with black streaks. The underparts, apart from the blue bib, are orange-buff, with a white belly. The female is similar, but lacks the blue face and bib.

          Similar Species

          The Southern Emu-wren inhabits heathlands rather than mallee spinifex. It can be separated by the obvious streaking on its head, blue feathering on the throat of the males that does not extend onto the face, and a whitish underbelly.

          Location

          Distribution

          Until recently, the Mallee Emu-wren was confined to the Murray Mallee region of north-western Victoria and eastern South Australia. However, since recent bushfires in SA, the species is now found only in Victoria, where it occurs in Murray–Sunset, Hattah-Kulkyne and Wyperfeld National Parks.

          Habitat

          Mallee Emu-wrens occur in among dense stands of Spinifex Triodia in mature mallee woodland associations which have remained unburnt for at least 15 years. They have also been recorded in low, semi-arid, mallee–heath. 

          Behaviour

          Feeding

          Due to the dense nature of their habitat, little is known about the foraging behaviour of the Mallee Emu-wren. They mostly feed in clumps of Spinifex and low shrubs, as well as occasionally on the ground, where they take small insects, mainly beetles.

          Breeding

          Mallee Emu-wrens usually three eggs in a domed or hooded nest made of grass, strips of bark and Spinifex leaves, all woven together, and lined with soft material. Only the female incubates, but the young are fed by both sexes. 

          Conservation Status

          Federal

          Endangered

          NSW

          Not present

          NT

          Not present

          QLD

          Not present

          SA

          Endangered

          TAS

          Not present

          VIC

          Endangered

          WA

          Not present

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