Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve

Rainforest Gardeners - The brush turkey

Alectura lathami

The brush turkey belongs to an ancient family of birds known as the megapodes (meaning: large feet).

Instead of building a nest like most other birds, the male brush turkey builds a giant compost heap by raking leaf litter with its large feet. These compost mounds create the heat that is necessary to incubate their eggs. Brush turkey chicks hatch deep within the mound and may take several days to dig their way to the surface. They are then self sufficient and must find their own food and seek shelter from predators such as carpet pythons, cats and birds of prey.

Brush turkey - Alectura lathamiThe brush turkey is the largest bird of our local rainforest and is able to eat large fruit. It plays an important role in the spreading of rainforest seed - the only way some plants can spread their seed. The brush turkey is a highly adaptable bird and forages through gardens in areas near rainforest - much to the annoyance of some human gardeners!

Brush turkeys are the gardeners and guardians of the rainforest. Their constant scratching and turning of the soil and leaf litter cultivates the forest floor. Their nests are compost heaps that increase soil fertility and enhance plant growth and they sow large quantities of seed throughout the forest from the fruit that they eat.

Although common in Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, these ancient birds have faced many threats, including loss of habitat. Fortunately the replanting of rainforests will allow these rainforest gardeners to sow the seeds of a brighter future.


More amazing animals . . .

Rainforest Gardeners - Red legged pademelon - Pink underwing moth
Mountain crayfish - Great barred frog - Angle-headed dragon
Red-bellied black snake - Marbled frogmouth



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