Living with Brush Turkeys

Media release: 27 April 2009

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is asking for the community's tolerance, following an increasing number of complaints regarding Brush Turkeys.

NPWS Community Relations Ranger, Lisa Walker, said that the Brush Turkey has always been a common resident of the area; however some people find their habits hard to deal with.

"The Australian Brush Turkey is a protected species and belongs to the family of birds known as megapodes, which construct mounds of vegetation to incubate their eggs in," Ms Walker said.

"Using vegetation gathered from the forest floor, male Brush Turkeys build a large incubation mound, which can be up to 4 m wide and 1.5 m high. The female then lays her eggs and departs, leaving the care of the eggs to the male bird. As the vegetation in the mound decomposes it gives off heat which warms the eggs.

"The male Brush Turkey maintains the optimum temperature by removing and adding layers to the mound. When the chick hatches it is fully mobile and completely independent of the parent birds. Once a bird has started to build its mound, it is extremely difficult to prevent it from continuing. No single method of deterrence has proved effective in all situations and destroying the mound only leads to more determined efforts.

"Brush Turkeys are generally wary of humans. However, they can become very tame around picnic/camping grounds, and homes, particularly if they are fed. We don't recommend that you feed Brush Turkeys as it can lead to them becoming assertive foragers. Leaving pet food and water out can also encourage them into your garden.

"The best option is to divert the bird's attention to another area of your garden, by building a household compost mound. Ideally, this compost mound should be sited next to at least one large tree. The brush turkey may be attracted towards the area, and eventually take over the compost mound as its nesting mound.

"Tree guards can also help to reduce the impacts of Brush Turkeys on valuable plants and veggie gardens," Ms Walker said.

"Brush Turkeys are a fascinating part of our natural heritage, and many householders now accept these birds as part of their backyard environment."

Contact: Lawrence Orel

Page last updated: 28 February 2011