Australian Bush Turkey


  • Coffs Harbour, NSW, Australia

Latin Name: Alectura lathami
Gumbaynggirr Name: gilgunyjan

The cheeky Australian brush turkey, also known as bush or scrub turkey, is a fascinating species that is frequently spotted on the Coffs Coast. These large ground dwelling birds with black plumage, and bright red, featherless heads are not usually shy. They are can be found scratching through foliage on the forest floor, guarding their massive nesting mounds, or lingering around the edges of picnic areas. Moreā€¦.
One of the reasons why the Australian Bush turkey is such a fascinating creature is that unlike most birds, the male, with his booming call and bright yellow wattle at the base of its neck, takes care of the incubating eggs. During the breeding season, which is from August through January, the male brush turkey builds a large mound of soil and leaf litter in which the female lays her eggs. The mounds are usually as big as 4-6 metres wide and more than a metre high. The decomposing vegetation gives off heat which helps to incubate the eggs. The male turkeys are able to monitor the temperature and ensure that it remains constant by adding or removing foliage as required. He will actively defend the mound, especially from other males, while the eggs are inside. Interestingly, the eggs that are laid in the mound and carefully monitored and defended are often fertilized by a different male than the one actively caring for them. Upon hatching, the chicks, which are left to their own devices, dig their way out through the layers.