Melanesian Megapode

Megapodius eremita

The Melanesian scrubfowl or Melanesian megapode (Megapodius eremita) is a megapode species that is endemic to islands within Melanesia. The Melanesian scrubfowl has a unique strategy of egg incubation in which it relies on environmental heat sources. This bird species is culturally important for Indigenous peoples in Melanesia. Similar to other megapodes, Melanesian scrubfowl have a stout body shape, characteristically large feet, and rounded wings. Scrubfowl, including M. eremita, also have very short tails, giving the birds a distinctive silhouette lacking a visible tail. Adult Melanesian scrubfowl measure around 34 to 39 cm and have a short crest. The Melanesian scrubfowl has three different plumage types during its lifecycle: the juvenile plumage of chicks, a second immature plumage, and adult plumage. Adult birds have a brown back; dark grey head, neck and underparts; brown-, grey- or olive-coloured legs; red patches of bare skin on the face (notably on the forehead); and a yellow bill-tip. Females and males cannot easily be distinguished visually but the female may have lighter-coloured legs and a brighter brown colour. The plumage of M. eremita chicks is dark brown with paler underparts, obvious barring on their upperparts and includes flight feathers. Melanesian scrubfowl shows some variation in its appearance across its range with eastern populations being lighter and more red-brown in colour.
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