ONE of the most exciting and infuriating birds in Australia must be the brush turkey.
Have one in your garden and it is a joy to watch their weird and eccentric ways.
Have one in your garden when a male decides to build a mound to attract the ladies and you will likely see years of gardening work and a small fortune in plants literally torn up overnight.
This turkey lives at the Scribbly Gum Conservation Area at Alexandra Hills and roams through gardens backing onto the reserve, looking for handouts and, likely, other turkeys.
It may have been trapped in some part of Brisbane where it was deemed a garden pest and dumped in the area because the species normal habitat is rainforest.
Australia has three mound-building birds. The other two are the mallee fowl found down south and north Queensland’s orange-footed scrub fowl.
Brush turkeys are strong and can quickly shift mountains of material. They are good scavengers and at Alexandra Hills this bird became habituated to a back yard after it started using a compost heap for fossicking.
They are known to help themselves to cat and dog food left out.
Fun to watch, they will suddenly run off in an urgent, wing-flapping run. They quickly appear and disappear into forest. Like many birds, there is much bullying that goes on when they are in groups.
At night they roost high in trees, making them safe from dogs and foxes, though their young get knocked over by predators.
Brush turkeys are found from Cape York to about Wollongong, NSW. Spending most of their time in rainforest, they do move out into drier scrubs.
The state Environment Department says they mostly breed from September to December
Males build a mound and spend a lot of time checking its temperature via a sort of inbuilt thermometer in their beaks. If it’s just right, females will return many times to mate and lay eggs.
About two dozen eggs are laid into holes about .5m deep and the male keeps watch whle they incubate for 50 days.
About one in 200 chicks survive. They are independent when they hatch and the parents ignore them.
They are an amazing bird and it is an extraordinary thing that they can be seen pretty much in the centre of a major city like Brisbane.
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