These largish dark plumaged birds are found in forested areas of Queensland and New South Wales and are one of three Australian megapodes, species of birds that build mounds of vegetation for incubating their clutches of eggs. I saw them fairly often whilst I was living in NSW, generally on walks and picnics in National Parks north of Sydney. They can be a bit of a nuisance when there is food about, especially if you leave your lunch box unattended for a moment...they are particularly fond of fruit!
They are heavy birds and clumsy fliers, generally only taking to the air when predators threaten or when seeking a roost during hot periods and at night.
The male bird is the most colourful, with his distinctive red head and yellow neck wattle that brightens considerably during the breeding season, with the females and chicks a more sober brown in colour.
It is the male that is responsible for gathering, building and maintaining his compost mound. This can reach quite large proportions, up to one and a half metres high by four metres wide and is often added to and enlarged each breeding season.
A mature male, some youngsters and several females may share the area of the mound. Goannas and snakes quite often try to bandicoot the large eggs from the mound and sometimes bear the scars on their tails where they have been routed from the egg hunt.
The male birds control the temperature within the mound by monitoring it with their beaks and adding or taking away materials until the fully fledged chicks emerge, then have nothing further to do with them.
Because of the birds energetic building activities, you can see they may not always be very welcome to home owners living on a small bush block...they can simply take over the back yard and, like other sorts of squatters, can be very hard to move on once they set their minds on a location they like the look of.
In populated areas where these birds are more numerous, councils and wild life management groups produce guidelines to assist property owners and visitors to public areas avoid issues with the birds. Even if they don't take over a property, they often destroy nearby gardens looking for food, or remove huge quantities of mulch to add to their nesting mounds.
These birds eat fruit, seeds and insects, generally scratching and searching through the leaf litter on the forest floor, breaking open rotting branches with their powerful beaks and feet. They sometimes also take fruit from trees, when it is available to them, or the odd banana they find lying about...
I include this short YT video by Michael Billerbeck, (Thank you, Michael), as it shows a male Brush Turkey doing a bit of maintenance on his nesting mound...there are also other bird sounds, including whip birds, bell birds and a kookaburra in the background amongst all the scratching and heaving about of leaf litter...
It was very interesting to see everything displayed and chat to a few of the stall holders, and it was great to see so many folk present, but I had stupidly left my walking stick at Karina's place and it really was a dreadful effort to get around without it, plus I suffered badly for the rest of the weekend. I am getting to the stage where I need to use a walker or forearm sticks for longer distances now...it is all too hard on my back without. Sigh!
After that we drove across the Bowen bridge and into Lindisfarne to a delightful eatery on a busy corner of the East Derwent Highway, for lunch. This shop used to be a grocery store when we lived nearby many years ago, then became an upmarket greengrocer and licenced deli called Aproneers for a while and has now transmogrified into a stylish eatery with a clean and simple retro feel...It is the girls latest casual eatery enthusiasm and we have agreed to meet there again very soon, to sample their breakfast menu. I am sure Tim and Chris would both enjoy it...I spotted Eggs Benedict on the menu so that should ensure Chris will decide to accompany us...Plus the name...our youngest grandster's name is Spencer!
Also, (which I found was much harder), we have to critique at least one of our fellow students writings from the week...providing honest feedback and positive ideas for content improvement without giving the slightest offence or discouragement...I am falling back on my years of people management here although online written work is a slightly different kettle of fish to dealing with a person you have been able to converse with, observe and generally understand far more fully than just through the words they have written on a screen...
Bye for now,