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Sula Megapode

Megapodius bernsteinii

The Sula megapode, also known as the Sula scrubfowl, is a medium-sized terrestrial bird, with a body length ranging from 30 to 35 centimeters. Both sexes exhibit a similar plumage of uniform reddish-brown, adorned with a short, pointed crest. Their legs and feet are a striking red or orange-red, adding a dash of color to their otherwise earthy tones.

Identification Tips

When attempting to identify the Sula megapode, look for its reddish-brown plumage and distinctive red or orange-red legs. The short, pointed crest is another key feature to observe. These birds are ground-dwellers, so you will likely spot them foraging on the forest floor rather than perched in the canopy.

Habitat

The Sula megapode is found in a variety of forested environments, including subtropical or tropical dry forests, moist lowland forests, mangrove forests, and moist shrublands. These habitats provide the necessary cover and food resources for the species.

Distribution

This bird is endemic to the Banggai and Sula Islands, situated between Sulawesi and the Maluku Islands in Indonesia. It resides at altitudes up to 450 meters, often in close proximity to dense scrub and farmland.

Behaviour

Sula megapodes typically forage in pairs, although occasionally they may be seen in small groups, possibly consisting of a mated pair and their offspring. They are ground foragers, diligently searching for food among the leaf litter.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the Sula megapode primarily consists of roots and invertebrates, with a particular fondness for earthworms. Their foraging behavior involves scratching and digging into the soil to uncover these hidden delicacies.

Breeding

Breeding behavior includes vocal duets and choruses, particularly in the morning and to a lesser extent in the afternoon. Nests are constructed as cone-shaped mounds, often over rotting logs, and made from sand and clay. The female lays eggs within the mound, which are then covered with soil. Adults may be observed raking the mound's surface, a behavior thought to be associated with nest maintenance and possibly thermoregulation for the eggs.

Conservation status

The Sula megapode is classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The species faces threats from habitat destruction due to logging and conversion to agricultural land, hunting, egg collection, and predation by feral cats and dogs. With a limited area of occupancy of approximately 4,500 square kilometers, conservation efforts are critical for the survival of this unique bird.

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