Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Orange footed scrub fowl

Around here we see quite a few orange footed scrub fowl. 

The scientific name is Megapodus reinwardt. Some people give the scrub fowl the baby talk name of 'bush chook'. These birds are one of three species of megapods in Australia and this word refers to their big feet. Orange footed scrub fowl are found across northern Australia, in New Guinea, and as far as Flores.

What does this bird look like? It is a ground dwelling bird the size of a domestic chicken, dark-coloured with strong orange legs and a pointed crest on its head. These birds can fly, but do not do it often. Mostly they walk around. Their legs are really sturdy for such a small bird.

Scrub fowl make a strange call. It sounds rather like a curlew and rather like a scream. 

Around here the gardeners are not happy when scrub fowl come to live in the garden. It is almost impossible to get these birds to move to another location. They scratch around all day long and leave lots of mess. While they are scratching they are looking for food of course.  Food consists of items found in leaf litter, including fallen fruit, seeds, and small animals.

Here is a good link. The photos are really clear.

Scrub fowl build nests. No, not cute little nests in trees, but huge mounds of mulch which are often two or three metres tall and up to nine metres across. In this mound the heat generated by the decomposition of organic material serves to incubate the eggs. These mounds are permanent features and may be used by multiple pairs or families. Although the mounds are usually in the shade under a tree they are sometimes built in sunny spots so that there is more heat for the eggs. Eggs are laid when the mound temperature is about 30-35 degrees. The eggs are quite large, resulting in a large chick.

I was walking past an art gallery and saw some sculptures that capture the presence of these birds. They are fearless and definitely never worried about construction sites or cars or any activity by people. The artist has used fly wire to construct the bodies.

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