Saturday, 11 July 2009

Nest assured

We'd assumed that the turkeys were responsible for the mound, because that's what brush turkeys do — build nests in the least convenient spots. In this case, the edge of a narrow drive. But Tookie the Turkey, who patrols the block, ignored it. He strutted past without a second glance. He might have been bluffing.( Although they don't seem particularly bright, brush turkeys show the same sort of cunning as the velociraptors in 'Jurassic Park'. But with rather less bloodshed. At least, so far.) But there was something in his demeanour that suggested he was genuinely indifferent to the big pile o' leaves.

Nothing to do with me

So that left the scrubfowl.

Orange-footed scrubfowl are more difficult to watch than turkeys because they are not only secretive but are also given to fits of hysteria on being surprised. I know there's more than one on the property because I can identify individuals by their calls. (Well, I think I can. I may be delusional.) On moonlit nights, they cluck and cackle in a way that says, 'Beware! Mad chickens ahead.' It doesn't take much to set them off.

I hadn't seen any of them near the mound. But did that actually mean anything? Were they uninterested in it because it was turkey business or were they interested but shy about ownership?

Yesterday evening I got an answer. Just on dusk, one of the scrubfowl started remodeling the nest. Looks like I might have some more crazy, cockaded, big-footed chooks around the place.

Nobody here but us slightly insane chickens


For those not familar with these birds, both species are megapodes. This small group of Australasian birds incubate their eggs in mounds of leaves. They regulate the temperature inside the mound by piling on more leaves or scraping them off. Saves having to sit on them all the time.


Tyto Tony said...

You've really got 'heaps' of birds around the place! Surprisingly, both megapodes active in suburban Townsville's Anderson Park six years ago. Probably still are.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Snail
I love a biologist who can quote comic lines such as "nobody here but us chickens".
Shame those Megapodes lack maternal instincts, for it means we cannot anticipate lots of family photos, as the Swampy Things folks have provided recently with their Magpie Geese.

mick said...

I really like your new yard!

Dave Coulter said...

Heaps o'birds!
Lucky you :)

Snail said...

Certainly heaps o' birds here. And they don't turn up alone. If there's one species, there'll be two or three others. Often all shoving each other out of the way!

Not sure when the scrubfowl lay their eggs but given the position of the mound, I'm hoping that I'll see the chicks at some time.