The birth of a very special Australian Brush-turkey in Avifauna makes the keepers of the bird park proud. The chick does not hatch from a nest but it has been buried in an egg under the ground for three months.
The Australian Brush-turkey (Alectura lathami) belongs to the family of megapodes (Megapodiidae). Several species within this family do not breed using their own body heat but by burying the eggs in a breeding mound. The male uses leaves and sand to create this mound. The sand serves as insulation, while the leaves are used to produce heat as they start composting. The male keeps an eye on the mound and regularly checks its temperature by sticking its head in it. By the end of May it was not yet clear whether or not it was going to be a warm summer and therefore the eggs were dug up and put in a special incubator. Also here the eggs were buried in soil. After three months a chick appeared from the soil early August.
The Australian Brush-turkey is not rare in Australia, but in European zoos there are only two breeding pairs.
The breeding period of three months is extremely long, one of the longest in birds. When the chicks hatch they are fully developed. The are completely feathered and active, and they are soon able to fly. The chicks immediately have to take care of themselves. They also dig their way out of the breeding mound themselves.