Last updated on 1-Nov 22
The Australian Brush-turkey can sometimes damage gardens when raking up the ground looking for food. They are a large, ground-dwelling bird with black-brown plumage, a bald, red head and a yellow neck pouch (or wattle). Their chicks hatch fully feathered and can fly within a few hours.
The Australian Brush-turkey has mainly blackish plumage with pale scalloping on its underparts, a bare red head, yellow throat wattle (mauve in Cape York Peninsula birds) and laterally flattened tail. It has large, strong feet.
At 70 cm in length, and weighing around 2.3kg, it is the largest of Australia’s three megapodes (mound-building birds).
The Australian Brush-turkey is not easily confused with any other Australian bird. The Australian Brush-turkey is a large, ground-dwelling bird with black-brown plumage, a bald, red head and a yellow neck pouch (or wattle).
The Australian Brush-turkey’s occurs in eastern Australia, from Cape York Peninsula, south to suburban Sydney and the Illawarra region of New South Wales.
Woodland, Forest, Rainforest
The Australian Brush-turkey inhabits wooded habitats, especially rainforests and eucalypt forests and woodlands, but can also be found in drier scrubs, as well as parks and gardens in urban environments.
In the north of Queensland, the Australian Brush-turkey usually occurs at elevations above 300 metres, but some may wander to lower altitudes in autumn and winter. Further south, it occurs from the uplands down to sea level.
Usually occur alone on the ground, but may roost in small groups at night, up in the branches of trees. May congregate into loose groups at sources of food.
Brush-turkeys feed on insects, seeds and fallen fruits which are exposed by raking the leaf litter on the ground. Sometimes they also break open rotten logs with their large feet or, occasionally, feed on ripening fruits among tree branches.
The Australian Brush-turkey has been known to damage gardens by raking the ground looking for food.
As with other megapodes, Australian Brush-turkeys do not incubate their eggs using the conventional method of sitting on them. Instead, they use their large feet to rake leaf litter into a pile to form a large nesting mound of rotting vegetation. Each mound is about 4 m in diameter and 1 m high. Some males may have more than one mound. The female lays her eggs into a hole in the mound.
Heat generated by the rotting vegetation warms their eggs, and the male inserts his bill to check the heat levels, then scrapes leaf litter on or off to regulate the internal temperature to 33–38°C — too cool and the eggs won’t hatch, too warm and they would cook!
Many eggs fall prey to burrowing predators such as goannas and pigs.
After hatching, the chicks burrow out of the mound. They are able to walk and fend for themselves immediately; they’re able to fly just a few hours after hatching.
Clutch size is usually fewer than 20 eggs. Incubation lasts 49 days.
Woodland, Forest, Rainforest