The Tasmanian native-hen is a large flightless bird that is known locally as the “turbo chook”.
A large, heavy bodied, flightless bird found only in Tasmania. It is similar in shape to the Black-tailed Native-hen, but is larger. The Tasmanian Native-hen has a large yellow bill, a red eye, brown head, back and wings and is slate grey on its underparts. The contrasting black tail is long and narrow and is flattened along the mid-line of the bird . The legs are powerful and grey in colour. Juvenile birds are similar to adults but duller.
These birds are generally sedentary in permanent territories. Young may disperse at end of first year up to about 17 months.
Open pastures, grasslands, and other cleared areas, typically close to permanent or seasonal freshwater such as swamps, dams and rivers. They prefer wetlands with significant amounts of cover in which they can hide. Frequently seen at Peter Murrell Nature Reserve just south of Hobart.
These birds live in groups between three and five, plus young birds from the last mating season who contribute to care of the new young. Groups of these birds hold strictly defined territories up to 2ha. They’re also capable of running fast, at speeds of up to almost 50kmph, using their flightless wings to help them balance.
Seeds, leaves, and vegetation and a few insects. Tasmanian Native-Hens feed during the day and usually forage on the ground.
Throughout the year 2 or 3 birds (sometimes more) form an integrated breeding group with young up to 1 year within a permanent territory. Tasmanian Native-hens may be monogamous or polygamous (usually polyandrous). All the male birds in the group breed with 1 or more females in the group. Both sexes participate in nest building, incubating and tending chicks. Eggs are laid in an egg nest typically between August and November but this may vary significantly depending upon seasonal conditions.
The egg nest is usually built on the ground or over water from grass, reeds or herbage. Young are brooded at night (and sometimes during the day) in one of a number of nursery nests built in a more exposed position. Nursery nests are usually bulkier and untidier than egg nests. From 3 to 9 (but usually 5 to 8) eggs are laid. These eggs are incubated for about 22 days. Parents feed the chicks in decreasing amounts up to 8 weeks.