Brush-turkey.JPG (20833 bytes)Brush Turkey: is known scientifically as Alectura lathami and could be best described as a large black fowl with a prominent sideways-flattened tail. The head and neck are bare and bright red in colour. On the lower part of the neck there is a bright yellow wattle. This wattle becomes very prominent in breeding males. They are found in coastal rainforests from north Queensland to northern New South Wales. They spend most of their time on the ground amongst dense vegetation. The male’s bright yellow wattle may act as a beacon, in these gloomy areas, that attracts females during the breeding season. Their nests are a miracle of engineering. Brush Turkeys scrape up large mounds composed of earth and plant material. The mounds are kept friable by constant turning and may be four metres across and from one to two metres high. From 12 to 16 eggs are laid, in the mound, over a period of some days. The male does most of the construction and regulates the mound temperature to about 35 degrees centigrade. The eggs hatch in about seven weeks. The chicks dig their way out of the mound without assistance. After hatching they are completely independent and survive without parental assistance.
Brush Turkeys are related to the Malleefowls that inhabit the dry inland of Australia. They are also mound builders.
Brush Turkey diet consists of insects, herbs, sees, fruits and small invertebrates. They may become very tame, particularly around National Park picnic areas. In these cases their diet is supplemented by bread, cake and anything else that they may scrounge from human visitors. These foodstuffs are certainly not the best additions to bird diet.
The Brush Turkey  in the photo is one of many Brush Turkeys that frequent the main picnic area in Dorrigo National Park on the Northern Tablelands of New South Wales. New England National Park is adjacent to Dorrigo National Park and about 15 years ago Brush Turkeys started coming out of the rainforest to assist visitors in disposing of their picnic lunches.