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Australian Birds – Brush Turkey

How cute is this Australian Brush Turkey chick?

Australian Brush Turkey

When we were out at the Pine River Osprey House there were several of these really young Brush-Turkeys wandering around the picnic area.  Despite being very young they show no fear of people or the Grey Butcher Bird who seemed determined to chase them off to make sure he was the sole recipient of any table scraps. Not that either of them was going to get human food from us, there’s plenty of natural fodder around the surrounding area.

Brush Turkeys are quite social but they do have an unusual breeding and nesting ritual.  One of the reasons you really don’t want a Brush Turkey to make its home in your garden is that they pile up large mounds of leaves and other organic material and they have no restraint when it comes to kicking large quantities of mulch and leaf litter all over the garden beds or lawn. 

These nesting mounds are often around a metre high and can get to as much as 3-4 metres across, they are built by the male and may be used by more than one female to lay her eggs.  The female then has nothing more to do with the nest, it is tended by the male who uses his beak to dig holes and check the temperature. He then adds or removes leaves and other material regularly to keep the temperature between 33-38 degrees.

Being ground built nests they are often raided by goanna and other burrowing predators, those eggs that survive produce feathered chicks that are able to walk and fend for themselves immediately. Neither parent bird has anything to do with the chicks once they hatch so you get really young ones like this just wandering around without supervision, it’s pretty amazing really that they’re born knowing everything they need to know.

Brush Turkeys are native birds of Australia and you’ll find them across New South Wales and Queensland. While they naturally live mainly in the more humid rainforest regions you’ll find them right out to the coast in dry eucalypt forest and parklands. Some of the better places to see them in their native habitat include the Lamington National Park and walks such as Witches Falls in the Tamborine Mountain National Park.

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