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Someone has raked my backyard

Bush turkeys grow in numbers in Chatswood

Brush turkeys on Sydney North Shore I remember the day I first saw them in Australia a few years ago. While walking through a rainforest in Noosa, I noticed a rather large bird perched on a tree branch just above my head. "It's a bush turkey - they live in the wild and they can fly a few metres", my husband explained. "They will not attack you, they are rather shy birds here".

The only turkeys I had seen before were farm ones, big, noisy and arrogant, looking for any chance to pinch your leg. As a child, I always stayed away from them.

Bush turkeys grow in numbers in Sydney metro gardens, parks and reserves In Sydney, I saw the first bush turkey a year ago. It was close to our home on the North Shore, some 300 metres from high-rise buildings and the city centre. The area we live in has lots of tropical and rainforest-like plants - I suppose this vegetation attracts the birds.

Since then I would see one or two of them every day on my way to work.

Four brush turkeys in Chatswood West, Willoughby Council In summer we had an unexpected visitor in our art studio: a baby turkey perched itself on the biggest easel and "signed" the painting with its white signature. Quite an original interaction between art and nature, I must admit.

A couple of months passed.

Now I can see a lovely family of four turkeys on my way to work (see above pic). I suspect next year it will be eight, and a year after we will be forced to revise our gardening ambitions.

Bush turkey - image by John Gould, The birds of Australia

Bush turkey facts

What: large ground-dwelling bird, native to Australia
Names: Australian bush turkey, brush turkey, scrub turkey, wild turkey
Latin name: Alectura lathami
Size: 85cm height, 70cm wing-span, 2.2kg weight
Appearance: blackish feathers, red head and neck without feathers in male birds, females are covered with small dark bristles. Around their neck, they both male and female has a bright yellow wattle. Large flattened tail, strong legs.
Habitat: The Australian Brush-turkey inhabits rainforests and wet schlerophyll forests, but can also be found in drier scrubs. Its range extends along eastern Australia, from Cape York Peninsula, Queensland, south to the northern suburbs of Sydney and the Illawarra region of New South Wales. In the northern part of its range, the Australian Brush-turkey is most common at higher altitudes, but individuals move to the lowland areas in winter months. In the south, it is common in both mountain and lowland regions. (source: Australian Brush-turkey)
Food: Brush-turkeys feed on insects, seeds and fallen fruits, which are exposed by raking the leaf litter or breaking open rotten logs with their large feet. The majority of food is obtained from the ground, with birds occasionally observed feeding on ripening fruits among tree branches. (source: Australian Brush-turkey)
Breeding: Australian Brush-turkey incubates its eggs in a large mound. The male usually builds a single large mound of organic matter, approximately 4 m in diameter and 1 m high. Some males have been recorded with more than one mound, but this is not common. Up to 50 eggs are laid by several females in a single mound. The eggs are incubated by the heat given off by the rotting vegetation. The male maintains a constant temperature of 33 - 38C by digging holes in the mound and inserting his bill to check the heat, then adding and removing vegetable matter as required. The eggs hatch after approximately seven weeks, but many fall prey to burrowing predators such as goannas. After hatching, the chicks burrow out of the mound, at which point they are left to fend for themselves. These hatchlings are fully feathered and are able to walk and fend for themselves immediately. Remarkably, they are able to fly just a few hours after hatching. (source: Australian Brush-turkey)
Bush turkey is the largest of Australia's three megapodes (Family Megapodiidae)

More about Australian bush turkeys

Video: Brush Turkey tries to bury a dog. He is very aggressive in defending his territory in the main street of Noosa Heads.

How to get rid of bush turkeys from your garden

Have you had any encounters with bush turkeys?
Then let us know

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