Birda Logo
loading...
A photo of a Australian Brushturkey (Alectura lathami)
Australian Brushturkey

Australian Brushturkey

Alectura lathami

The Australian brushturkey (Alectura lathami), also known as the Australian brush-turkey or gweela, is a robust, black-feathered bird with a distinctive red head. It is the largest extant member of the Megapodiidae family and is found in eastern Australia. The bird is not closely related to American turkeys or the Australian bustard, despite superficial similarities. It measures approximately 60–75 cm in length with an 85 cm wingspan. The northern subspecies, A. l. purpureicollis, is slightly smaller and sports a purple wattle, contrasting with the yellow wattle of the more widespread nominate subspecies.

Identification Tips

Males can be identified by their larger, more vibrant wattles during breeding season, which swing as they run. The brushturkey's plumage is predominantly blackish, with a fan-like tail that is flattened sideways. The red head is bare, and the underside of the body is dotted with white feathers, more so in older birds. It is a clumsy flyer, taking to the air primarily when threatened or to roost.

Habitat

The Australian brushturkey is found in rainforests, wet sclerophyll forests, drier scrubs, and open areas. It is common at higher altitudes in the north and in both mountain and lowland regions in the south. Urban environments such as Brisbane and Sydney also host this adaptable bird.

Distribution

This species ranges from Far North Queensland to Eurobodalla on the South Coast of New South Wales and has been introduced to Kangaroo Island in South Australia.

Behaviour

The brushturkey is known for its mound-building behavior, with dominant males constructing large nests on the ground from leaves, compostable material, and earth. These mounds are used by females for egg-laying. Males tirelessly defend and maintain these nests. The brushturkey is also known for its boldness in human-populated areas, often stealing food and raiding compost bins.

Breeding

Males build and maintain large compost mounds for females to lay eggs in, with the heat generated from composting regulating the incubation temperature. The sex ratio of chicks is affected by the temperature, with equal ratios at 34Β°C, more males when cooler, and more females when warmer. Chicks are precocial and fend for themselves immediately after hatching.

Similar Species

The Australian brushturkey is similar in appearance to the wattled brushturkey, Waigeo brushturkey, and malleefowl, but can be distinguished by its larger size and habitat preferences.

Diet and Feeding

Brushturkeys forage on the ground, raking up the leaf litter in search of food. They are omnivorous and have a varied diet.

Conservation status

The Australian brushturkey is currently listed as Least Concern by the IUCN. It was once thought to be approaching extinction in the 1930s but is now fairly common. The species is fully protected in Queensland, with significant penalties for harming them. In New South Wales, fines for shooting a brushturkey can reach up to A$22,000.

App logo
Birda is a birdwatching app and community aimed at curious people who want to deepen their connection with nature.

Australian Brushturkeys on Birda

Photos
Sightings

More Megapodes

Birda Logo

Your birdwatching journey like never before

Connect with nature in minutes
Take a walk, look out of the window and log the birds that you see. Feel good about those little connections to nature.
Discover the joy of birding
Find new birding spots, see more birds, share and celebrate with a like-minded community of nature lovers.
Play your part in saving nature
Logging your birding sightings and sessions turns into positive action for our planet. Every sighting counts.

Birda Blog

What Our Birders Say
Talli A
My favourite app
As a young birdwatcher who was always keen to be apart of a community but never seemed to find one, my problem was solved downloading this!!! Everyone is so friendly and just as excited to see birds as me 😁
Carrie
Makes you want to spot birds more
I think this app is fun. It makes you want to spot birds more so I guess in a way it encourages you to get out and about instead of sitting in front of the TV.
Dunners12345
Great App
Great app to use for logging and communicating with others who are interested in birds
Dan R
Great app for bird fanatics
Great app for bird fanatics - very user friendly and a perfect place to share sightings.
Ellesse_W
Learning Birding with Birda
I’m relatively new to birding as a hobby, and Birda is a great way to keep track off all the species I see. I’m still working on my ID skills, but the app is great for figuring out potential species, and the online community is so friendly and helpful. Definitely recommend Birda to both early and serious birders! 🐦
EandB17
Terrific App for Birders
Downloaded Birda around the time my interest in birding was sparked, and it has been a terrific app to help me (1) share my experience, (2) document my sightings, and (3) learn more about birds in general. That said, I also believe Birda is a fantastic app for birders of all experience levels. Great community!
Abi.M
Awesome App
I really enjoy using this app! It is such a friendly community of bird-lovers who are happy to help if I need ID advice. It’s been great motivation to get outdoors and go birding more! 10/10 😍😍
Jake W
Great app
I use this app all the time as it’s quick and easy to log individual sightings or whole birding sessions. It’s an excellent way to meet new people and the forum is full of really friendly people. The challenges are a great way to get involved and learn more about birds. Cannot recommend it enough!
Marlster24
Very Wholesome App
Joined this app with a new interest in watching birds to help me find out what I was spotting. The community is very active in helping identify birds which is great and everyone is very kind so it’s just a nice wholesome community. I would definitely recommend this for any bird spotter πŸ˜„
Emcil24
A Friendly Place
I love using the bird app, I have a pretty good knowledge of birds. But I do have some gaps in it, so it’s nice to have a safe space to check on a sighting to confirm the species. It’s really enjoyable and I love the badges you can collect. It’s like a real life PokΓ©mon go.
As featured in
Connect with nature,
Find your flock
Download Birda - QR Code
Β© 2024 All rights reserved