Campus bird life: Brush turkey

2 Dec 2018

UQ is a haven for our feathered friends, with numerous native species and over 100 bird boxes across all sites and campuses. But how well do you know your birds? In the first of our Campus Bird Life series, we'll be introducing you to that notorious yard destroyer: the brush turkey.

What bird is that?

The Australian brush turkey (Alectura Lathami), also known as the bush turkey or scrub turkey, is a native Australian bird and a familiar site in many Queensland backyards and public spaces. It's protected under the Nature Conservation Act 1992.

The brush turkey's natural habitat is a closed-canopy environment such as a rainforest, gully or suburban garden. They can be found in most Brisbane suburbs, and particularly favour shady gardens with plenty of mulch and tree litter. Their natural diet consists of forest fruits and small inverterbrates, and they often forage for food on the ground.

Friend or foe?

Brush turkeys have few natural predators, which means their numbers are on the rise. During breeding season, male brush turkeys build nesting mounds that can destroy gardens.

Brush turkeys have also been known to try taking food from students on campus.

However, Brisbane City Council notes that "The brush turkey plays an important role in natural pest management. They prey on insects and grubs in woodland habitats and suburban gardens. They also help disperse native vegetation seeds through their faeces".

Brush turkey management on campus

So what role can you play in keeping the brush turkeys at bay? Here are some easy tips for when you're on campus:

  • Don't feed brush turkeys or leave your food unattended if you're eating outside.
  • Don't leave food scraps or waste lying on tables or benches for brush turkeys to scavenge.
  • Shoo brush turkeys away if they approach you while you're eating.