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Birds of Australia - species that build incubating nest mounds

Back to the main page on different types of nest .

Australia is home to three species that use the heat generated by the fermentation of organic material (such as leaf litter) to assist them in the slow incubation of their eggs. From these mounds, after a long incubation period, very well-developed chicks will hatch, which will immediately be self-sufficient. To produce such well-developed offspring, the eggs of these mound-nesting species are, compared with other species of similar size, enormous. Example: Malleefowl are roughly comparable in size and weight with domesticated chickens. However, while in chickens a 70-gram egg is considered "oversize" (and often has two yolks), a normal Malleefowl eggs weighs in at 210 grams! Having to produce enormous mounds to make fermentation work, the males of these species are all "obsessive-compulsive" scratchers (as some gardeners can verify).

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

(Only species for which we have some kind of breeding information of our own are shown here.)

Photos

Male Australian Brush-turkey looking on as a female lays her eggs into a hollow he had scratched into his mound
[Wingham Brush NR, NSW, September 2011]

Near-frontal view of Malleefowl on its nesting mound (photo courtesy of R. Brinsley)
[85 km West of Wentworth, NSW, August 2012]

Orange-footed Scrubfowl nesting mound at the start of the breeding season
[Fogg Dam NR, NT, August 2014]