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20100918Da_EL_047=_MG_11249_Australian_Brush-turkey_dust-bathing-Brisbane_Queensland_EL+PS.jpg
Australian Brush-turkey dust-bathing, Brisbane Australia.   //   Australian Brush-turkey - Megapodiidae: Alectura lathami. Also Bush Turkey, Scrub Turkey, Wild Turkey. Length to 70cm, wingspan to 85cm, weight to 2.25kg.  Males have bright red skin on the head and a yellow wattle (lilac or orange on Cape York) that expands when sexually excited and displaying.  Found in eastern Australian forests from Cape York to Gosford in central New South Wales. A ground-dwelling species which is reluctant to fly, but is  a strong flier once airborne. Sleeps about 10m above ground in canopy of a tree. Omnivorous -  feeds on insects, worms, various invertebrates, seeds, fruit; becomes tame close to humans and is common in parks and gardens of many cities and towns. Megapodes have strong legs and feet and build a mound from litter that they scratch into place, often from considerable distance; the mound may be 4m in diameter and 1.5m high. As the vegetation decomposes it gives off heat and this incubates the eggs. The male attracts females to the mound and they lay their eggs in a hole that he has prepared, usually reaching the decomposed layer, and at about 34 degrees Centigrade - special sensors in the beak measure the temperature and the male removes or adds cover to maintain a constant temperature.  Chicks burrow out to the surface and are precocious, quail-like but downy, and able to look after themselves as soon as they dry. Dust-bathing sites (wallows) in sandy soil are about 50cm diameter and 10cm deep.     IUCN Status: Least Concern   //