Who’s This Little Hoarder Ripping Up My Shrub?

Readers who have pored over every page of this blog (thanks mum!) Will remember that some time ago we played a game along the lines of “Where’s Wally”.

Here’s another “Where’s” game and in this one not only do you have to spot the subject of today’s post, but also name him (all of them if you can see more than one). All join in now, here’s your picture….

Hello, anybody there?

Hello, anybody there?

No doubt you will have all spotted something to the left and here’s a closer view. But did you know its name?

There he is

See him?

Maybe not all of you spotted the action towards the middle of the picture closer to the bush. But there is certainly another one there, maybe two….

In the bush

There’s another one, or two.

And here’s what we are talking about…..

Brush turkey

Here he is!

So, what’s he called?

Well, I’ve always referred to them as bush turkeys, but also know they are sometimes called scrub turkeys. But when I started doing a little more research for this post, I noticed most people refer to them as brush turkeys.

So, brush turkey, bush turkey or scrub turkey? I think all three will do, as you’ll see at the end of this post. Me, I’m going to stick with bush for this article.

The Bush Turkey

He’s a native bird of Australia found all the way along the eastern coast. He is regarded as a bit of a pest and looks like a down and out. He ambles about, scratching and rummaging through the scrub looking for stuff. If he finds what he likes, he takes it back to add it to his mound of stuff which, frankly, looks like a pile of rubbish.

Although he can fly, when he’s frightened (not often) he prefers to run. And he does it all with an air of eccentricity bordering on insanity.

But he’s not mad! No no no.

The pile of rubbish he is constructing is the nest for his chicks. It is constructed to specific requirements, and that means it being about one metre to a metre and a half high and about 4 metres across. Built with leaves, earth and other stuff he gathers up, he is looking to achieve a temperature of 33° to 35°C within the incubation area.

This temperature is critical. At 34° C the offspring could be male or female. At 33°it’s more likely to be a male and at 35° female. Outside of those temperatures? Nada! The bush turkey tests this temperature with his beak. Constantly. Nobody knows for sure if he uses the temperature to manipulate the sex of his offspring.

If you spent the last few weekends building a fantastic shrubbery, you really don’t want one of these to come along and pull it apart. If you try reclaiming your stuff from his mound, he’ll just gather it all up again and rebuild it. Try getting rid of him, and he’ll come back. He’s very territorial. So some would say he’s an Australian bad thing, but c’mon. He’s harmless really.

Bush turkeys are protected under state wildlife legislation so it’s illegal to cause them any harm. Quite right too, even if they can be a little annoying. Sometimes though, their obsessive mound building can come in handy, like recently just after the floods.

I can’t embed the video here, but it’s worth popping over to watch this 36 second video at Nine’s News Channel. Oh, and what’s the correct name? Brush turkey, bush turkey or scrub Turkey?

Well I know they are commonly referred to scrub turkeys, so that’s okay. Nine News call it a brush turkey in the title of their video but the newsreader introduces him as a bush turkey. So, seems you can take your pick.

Update:

Well, Nine News have now removed that video, so check this one out instead…

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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Peter September 7, 2012, 11:34 am | Link

    Following an ‘invasion’ of brush turkeys last year we set up an array of mirrors this year which seem to have had the desired deterrent effect. The idea is to wage psychological warfare by convincing your bird(s) that his area has been claimed by another turkey.

  • BobinOz March 22, 2011, 12:19 am | Link

    I bet the traditional Christmas turkey’s are wondering why they aren’t protected! There’s your answer, they don’t taste worse than a rock.

  • Gordon March 20, 2011, 6:28 pm | Link

    Correction to my previous post , the bird I referred to as the plains turkey is more likely to be Ardeotis australis , that was poor research on my part , my apologies .

    Here’s a link to google images of them –
    http://www.google.com.au/images?hl=en&source=hp&biw=1024&bih=554&q=Ardeotis+australis&btnG=Search+Images&gbv=2&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=

    As far as the eating qualities of scrub turkeys are concerned , I’ve heard that they should be treated similarly to a galah , i.e. put the bird and a rock in a pot of boiling water , broil for 3 hours , allow to cool , throw the bird away and eat the rock 😉

  • BobinOz March 18, 2011, 8:45 pm | Link

    Glad you said that, I’ve not heard anyone call them brush turkeys, but search for ‘bush’ turkey and ‘brush’ appears everywhere.

    They sound tasty, but none of us will ever know.

    Beep beep indeed!

  • Gordon March 17, 2011, 11:14 pm | Link

    Scrub turkey is the term ,always has been in my life . The word “brush” is generally not used at all in Oz.

    Up North ( where I used to live ) exists the Plains Turkey or Bustard, (Eupodotis australis) , they are reputed to be excellent eating 🙂 They are protected so ofcourse I’ve never tasted one.

    My old Dad always referred to scrub turkeys as “road runners” as from the cartoons with Wiley Coyote.

    Beep beep !

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