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Monday, October 19, 2009

Australian Brush-turkey

Here are the first Brush-turkeys on this bloG. I had a brief first sighting a couple of weeks ago and a second one yesterday. I hope to be able to get better images of these extraordinary beautiful birds soon...
Australian Brush-turkey, NSW
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Yesterday, I also saw their incubator, but it was raining and couldn't take any photos of it. If you are unfamiliar of this amazing technique of nest-building and incubation you might want to read the whole Wikipedia article on Australian brush-turkeys. Here is the paragraph about the mounds:
"Brush-turkeys are communal birds, and have communal nests. A typical group consists of a dominant male, one or more younger males and several females. They build large nests on the ground made of leaves, other combustible material and earth, 1 to 1.5 metres high and up to 4 metres across. The eggs are hatched by the heat of the composting mound which is tended only by the males who regulate the temperature by adding or removing material in an effort to maintain the temperature of the mound in the 33-35°C incubation temperature range. The Australian Brush-turkey checks the temperature by sticking its beak into the mound. As with some reptiles, incubation temperature affects the sex ratio of chicks, which is equal at 34°C but results in more males when cooler and more females when warmer. It is unclear whether the parents use this to manipulate the sex of their offspring by, for instance, selecting the nesting site accordingly. Warmer incubation also results in heavier, fitter chicks, but how this is linked to gender is also unknown."