Australian Brush Turkeys play a vital role in Australia’s natural ecosystem. In many places in Australia brush turkeys are totems for Aboriginal people
Brush Turkeys are Ancient
Brush turkeys are in the family known as megapods. This family includes chickens, quails, peacocks and pheasants, brush turkeys are the most ancient of this family.. They have a primitive nesting behaviour, their incubation process rely's on their eggs being dumped in a mound by the female and once hatched the chicks fend for themselves.
During the great depression the brush turkey became a reliable food source. These birds where nearly wiped out during the 30's because they where so easy to hunt.
The male brush turkey builds a mound of compost to attract a mate who will lay her eggs in the nest. These mounds need to heat to between 30-33 degrees for the eggs to incubate. While this process is underway the male will tend to the mound to keep it at the right temperature. Once the chicks have hatched and the male has stopped tending his nest, the leftover mound is perfect compost for the garden as it contains moisture and nutrients which is useful in drought conditions.
To forage for food, they continually scratch and rake bushland looking for insects, grubs, seeds and fallen fruits. This aerates the soil supplying vital nutrients to the earth and stimulates the regeneration of native plants. Brush turkeys roost in groups in trees.
A few tips on living with brush turkeys
- To discourage brush turkeys in places you don't want them, dismantle any sign of a nest before it gets established and eggs have been laid.
- Spread a heavy tarpaulin over the mound and weighing it down, to prevent the bird from working
- Diver the birds attention to a less attractive or valuable area of the garden by building a household compost mound.
- Don't feed the birds.
- Build fences around your garden beds.
- Brush turkeys are encouraged by thick rainforest vegetation and leaf litter – they also need a lot of space for their enormous mounds.