The Australian Brush-turkey is far enough removed from the American Turkey’s Phasianidae family to not even get considered for wedding and funeral invitations. It belongs instead to the Megapodiidae branch of the Galliformes family tree. They are thought to keep in touch with the furthest reaches of their kin by sending Christmas cards, but are consistently disappointed and confused when their greetings are not returned.
Megapodes are mound-builders, scraping fallen twigs and leaves into large piles for their nests. The male builds the mound and will seek to entice multiple females to lay their eggs into it. Once they have laid, the females take no further part in the process and the male is left to tend the nest. This individual was seen at Mount Coot-Tha near Brisbane. Maintenance workers were resurfacing a track with bark chippings, but had left their task unfinished on the Friday afternoon, intending to complete the job after the weekend. When they returned to work on the Monday morning, they found that this male had taken vacant possession of their un-spread pile of chippings and had embellished it with a few touches of his own.
He had scraped up leaves from around the heap, but for the most part it was ready to move straight in and the workers watched three females laying eggs into the mound. With nothing to spread, the workers were taking it easy until some more chippings could be delivered and they came over for a chat while they waited. One, with charming Australian candour, described the yellow collar of the male as looking like “a saggy scrotum.” He also claimed that he could tell the temperature by how saggy the scr collar appeared. There may be something in what he says as the breeding season and hence the saggy collar season, coincide with the approach of the southern summer.
The scrub-turkey male must also be able to accurately gauge the temperature as he needs to adjust the nest to maintain it at the perfect incubating range between 33 and 35C. He uses his bald head as a thermometer, thrusting it into the decaying heap and manages the temperature by opening up the mound to allow a little heat to escape, or by adding more composting material to raise the temperature. Incubation at the higher end of the range produces a greater percentage of female offspring.
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Great photos, especially that closeup! What an astonishing fact that the male uses its head to gauge the temperature. Birds are pretty amazing, and that’s one of the best facts yet!
Our landlord has spread a huge amount of mulch in the garden around our house here in Heidelberg, but all that attracts is cockroaches.
Oh, to live in Australia…
It’s also my understanding that should you decide to cook one you don’t need a pop-up thermometer.
There is a recipe that involves pan frying fillets of scrub-turkey with butter, garlic, a little chilli and a small glass of red wine. Once reduced, use the jus on some pasta and discard the scrub-turkey “‘coz they taste nasty!”
I live at west end and these turkeys are everywhere ! I even had to come to a complete standstill whist I was driving to let a couple of turkeys pass !( I was only just leaving my driveway and was only going very slow anyway ,
so it didn’t bother me at all ! I know that the turkeys are here with us and we must make sure that cats are contained and owners should put bells on them so as to warn the birds that they are around !( it’s law anyway !) I love all animals and cats are natural predators ; it’s normal for then to hunt ! that can’t be helped !) but we can help our native friends to survive and keep our cats inside at night !( it won’t hurt them for several hours to be indoors !) then equip them with bells so as our turkey natives can at least hear a predator coming and can give the birds time to escape !( it’s so easy !) if people can’t be bothered to do a little thing like that then they are too lazy and are assisting the eradication of our native birds !( and I think that children would like to see their native animals .
Why do you tell us that you know how to serve up a bush turkey !?
Don’t you know that they are protected !
If you are an indigenous person then you are ok ! but if your not I won’t be taking your advice on cooking any native birds and neither should anyone on these posts !
Be careful also leaving rubbish in bags outside your back door like I did once ! I heard this strange pick pick noise and immediately I knew oh no it’s the turkeys ! My fault for procrastinating !( yes I’ll take the rubbish to the bin ! After the next ad on tv !) I soon learnt my lesson there ! so the turkeys actually taught me to be tidy and to get rid of rubbish immediately otherwise it will be strewn all over the neighbourhood !( Thanks my feathered friends for your input !
I did notice that there was a baby turkey hanging around my yard here and for some strange reason it vannished ! I don’t know if it was due to a cat that I have seen lurking around here at night or if the bubba turkey went wandering off to a better place to reside !
Regardless of this I will inform council about this cat roaming around in the dead of night as it should be inside if it is a domestic cat ! If it is wild then it must be removed or destroyed ! As I mentioned earlier that I love all animals ! dogs and cats also very much ! It’s their human owners that are the problem not adhering to animal welfare rules !( letting your cat or dog roam around the neighbourhood all hours of the night and day !( this behaviour is what hurts everyone !) being that if you have children or someone you know has children ! well I think it is fair that these native animals that we adults see should also be around so as our children can see them too ! and their children too see them too ! lets do our bit and be vigilant with our pets and don’t let our native animals become just a memory ( for our kids sakes !)
Hi bloke from Heidelberg ! Tell your landlord (Good on him !) he’s doing a beaut job for our feathered friends ! No harm in that ! He deserves a beer or two ! at least he is a good example of co-existing with our Aussie wildlife !( Can’t beat that !)
I’m glad to see that there aren’t many imbeciles that go around shooting harmless birds anymore ! I would be the first to inform authorities if I saw this happening anyway ! ( No I’m not a robber or anything like that ! but I have never understood the pure mentality of someone who shoots birds !???
How are these people brought up in the gutter ? What thrill could someone possibly get from shooting birds ? a feeling of a big game hunter !
Well instead of picking on poor defensless birds go and try a crockadile !( you know something your own size and something that can fight back !
Like that story that those school kids blatantly slaughtered those mutton birds on the news that time ! ( I mean what the ????!) teens or not they have parents that should teach them right from wrong !
I have even heard stories where cow cockies were slaughtering native parrots because they were eating their crops !( excuse me ? !) there are always other alternatives to killing native Australian animals mate !( these are the sorts of people that will make it that my grandchildren won’t k ow what a black cockatoo is or was ! These farmers are t at all innocent of wild-life slaughter ! I’m watching them ! I’m not picking on the farme niether !( there are always other alternatives to outright slaughter of a y animals ! ( tell those japs that too