Students get full Plains-wanderer experience on zoo excursion

Students from Ivanhoe Central School, Hillston Central School and St Joseph’s School, Hillston, have enjoyed an interesting, informative and most importantly, fun two days at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, learning about the Plains-wanderer.

The school excursion, which was coordinated and supported by Western Local Land Services, through funding from Catchment Action NSW, aimed to raise awareness of the Plains-wanderer, a critically endangered bird found in the Western region, including around the Hillston area.

Andrea Cashmere, Land Services Officer with Western Local Land Services, was pleased with how much the kids enjoyed the excursion.

“It was a great couple of days and seeing the kids so enthusiastic about the Plains-wanderer and what they can do to help was a real highlight,” Ms Cashmere said.

“The kids feel a certain kind of ownership of the Plains-wanderer because they are lucky enough to live in or nearby the bird’s habitat.

“When it comes to protecting threatened species such as the Plains-wanderer, we all have a role to play, whether we are a landholder, community member or school student.”

The Plains-wanderer is part of a captive breeding program at the Western Plains Taronga Zoo. The children visited the aviaries, watched the birds via CCTV and spoke to the keeper. The captive breeding program is one of the many recovery strategies to try and prevent the bird from becoming extinct.

What is the Plains-wanderer

The Plains-wanderer is a small ground-dwelling bird that has mostly light-brown plumage with fine black markings. Plains-wanderer are active during the day but due to their cryptic nature and strong camouflage, are rarely seen unless disturbed.

Distribution and habitat

The primary stronghold of the Plains-wanderer is the Riverina region of southern NSW, but it can occur throughout western NSW in suitable habitat. Habitat in the more arid parts of its range generally supports lower numbers of birds but can be important in good seasons.

Plains-wanderer live in low, sparse native grasslands, typically on hard, red-brown soils. The structure of the grassland is more important to Plains-wanderer than the plant species present. Plains-wanderer prefer grasslands made up of about 60 per cent bare ground and 40 per cent herbs and grasses, with some fallen litter.

Threats and how you can help

Landholders can contribute to the conservation of the Plains-wanderer by identifying areas of habitat on their properties and managing it to the appropriate condition for the bird.

Western Local Land Services support landholders who manage Plains-wanderer habitat with fox and rabbit control programs and African Boxthorn removal.

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