Bird Word: Mallee Tree

  • Mallee: this is a word I use often in my blog because I live in the Mallee districts of South Australia. Mallee is a group name for eucalypt trees which form dense scrublands and are usually found in arid or semi-arid parts of Australia. They are usually multi-trunked trees growing from a single underground stump called a lignotuber.

The mallee regions of Australia are quite extensive, stretching from southern western Australia through southern south Australia into northern Victoria and western New South Wales. Mallee scrubs can be quite thick, and almost impenetrable in some places. It is the preferred habitat for some of our bird species including:

  • Malleefowl
  • Purple-crowned Lorikeet
  • Mallee Ringneck Parrot
  • Scarlet-chested Parrot
  • Mallee Emu-wren
  • Yellow-rumped Pardalote
  • Mallee Heathwren (also called Shy Heathwren)
  • Black-eared Miner
  • Purple-gaped Honeyeater
  • Yellow-plumed Honeyeater
  • Southern Scrub-robin
  • Red-lored Whistler

Of course, many of the above species are found in other kinds of habitat, and there are many other species which can be found in the mallee habitat (click here for more photos).

Mallee Scrub, Murray Bridge

Mallee Scrub, Murray Bridge


17 Responses to “Bird Word: Mallee Tree”

  1. […] and the predominant plant species of the area, the various forms of shrubby eucalypt trees known as mallee trees. Many mallee trees line the roadside verges, along with melaleuca bushes and a wide variety of […]

  2. […] road to Loxton traverses mainly wheat and sheep farming country in the Murray Mallee region of South Australia. Although the winter was drier than usual the country is not looking as […]

  3. Jenni says:

    Just discovered your site on the birds of the mallee scrub of SA. We have a block between Sedan and Swan Reach, and I enjoy trying to ID the many birds here. Saw a little bird on Saturday which I thought was a Speckled Warbler, but they don’t hang out here. I’m wondering if it might have been the Mallee Heathwren instead. However, I didn’t notice an upright tail. Your comment would be most welcome. You seem to know your birds well, and I am only beginning to ID the birds.

  4. Trevor says:

    Hi there Jenny,

    Welcome to my blog about Australian birds.

    You are right about the Speckled Warbler – eastern states only. I saw my first one ever only 2 years ago near Griffith.

    You are probably right about it being a Mallee Heathwren. The only other possibility would be Brown Thornbill – but these tend to be Adelaide Hills only.

    The heathwrens and fieldwrens can be notoriously hard to pin down their ID due to the skulking habits – staying hidden in undergrowth most of the time. And when they do appear it is just for a fleeting moment. I have photos of none of them!

  5. Jenni says:

    Hi Trevor,

    Thanks for the confirmation. I’m still very new to trying to ID birds, and while I pick out the most distinctive features to keep to memory, often my bird book still doesn’t include the bird I see, or the picture isn’t quite right. Sometimes I remember to take the camera with me, and this helps plenty with identifying the birds later. While I enjoy just watching birds, I have this need to know what they are called. It’s all fun!

  6. Trevor says:

    Hi again Jenni,

    If you are having trouble getting the ID of birds rights DON’T PANIC!

    You are in very good company. Even the most experienced birders have trouble – or get it wrong. A photo can help but sometimes just confuses the issue further.

    A standing “joke” amongst birders is identifying those infuriatingly difficult LBBs – “Little Brown Birds.” They can all look the same.

    Some general hints to help narrow the possibilities:

    1. Size: compare the unknown bird with something you know – is it the size of a wren or a magpie or…

    2. Shape: Many species have a distinctive shape eg most honeyeaters are similar but are not the same as the shape of a duck, a hawk or…

    3. Behaviour: some only feed on the ground, some in water, others in the foliage. Knowing a species preferences will help.

    4. Habitat: Study the preferences of each species as detailed in field guides. Mallee birds are generally not found on the beach, water birds usually are near water etc

    5. Distribution: Study the field guides and memorize the normal distribution of each species. You won’t see a Cassowary in Swan Reach (if you do – PHONE ME IMMEDIATELY LOL). Be aware that the birds haven’t read the field guides and are sometimes a long way from where they are “supposed” to be. This makes the hobby so interesting – odd things pop up in unexpected places from time to time.

    These 5 steps will help you to narrow the list of possible species to perhaps half a dozen – hopefully less. Identifying a bird is often just a series of eliminations.

    If you dip out and can’t ID something, it’s not the end of the world. The bird knows what it is.

    Above all: Have fun.

  7. Trevor says:

    Hi again Jenni,

    After I’d finished writing the above reply I realised I’d written an article which could help other birders, so I’ve taken your comment, quoted it and then copied my reply into a new article.

    It is scheduled to appear on my site at 7am tomorrow (Monday Jan 4th) Thanks for the inspiration.

  8. Jenni says:

    Hi Trevor,

    Thank you so much for the tips. Thanks too for the notice on your new article. Can’t wait to read it! Usually, I do most of my bird watching when I’m just out for a walk. Sometimes I do have a camera or the binoculars with me. I should prepare a backpack with all that I need, including the Field Guide – but of course, I’m not that organised when I just go for a walk. However, I used to carry my little 10 x 21 binos, now I lug the 16 x 80s. And everytime I hear a new bird call I just have to hunt around a get a look at it. Yes, it’s all fun.

  9. […] is situated in the mallee regions of the state. Mallee is the generic name given to a wide range of eucalyptus trees common in the area. They are also […]

  10. […] to see the Malleefowl shown prominently as a part of the painting. Pinnaroo is in the heart of mallee country in South […]

  11. […] the massive Ngarkat National Park to the east of town. Most of these parks have huge stands of mallee vegetation. The most interesting bird that is endemic to the mallee environment is the Malleefowl. Below […]

  12. kelsey says:

    hey whoever gets this mail i am wondering if you could tell me.
    how many birds are there in murray bridge bird watching…
    i need to know ASAP please….. !!

    kelsey ann

  13. Trevor says:

    Hi there Kelsey,

    Thanks for visiting my birding blog.

    I have lived in Murray Bridge for over 25 years and have kept detailed records of many of my bird observations.

    In that time I have recorded 152 different species of birds in the Murray Bridge area within about 10km of the Post Office. I have heard of other birders who have seen some species that I haven’t seen here, so the true list is probably about 170 to 180.

    Of course, some of these birds are resident – meaning that they are here all the time. Some species are seasonal and are only here for part of the year (eg cuckoos). Other species are only seen once or twice and may not be seen here again for many years (eg budgies).

    Hope this helps.

  14. […] around in the next few months. They have been constantly investigating a large hollow in one of our mallee trees. The birds we have here are the sub-species Mallee […]

  15. […] My property is about 2 hectares (5 acres) in size, with over half of it either natural scrubland (mallee trees), or planted trees and shrubs. I have lived on this property for well over 30 years and have kept a […]

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