Brush turkey breeding season – what you need to know

A close-up shot of a brush turkey's head

If you want to deter your local brush turkey from building a nest-mound in your garden, early action is critical.

Over the past 15 years, brush turkeys have become a common sight around the suburbs of North Sydney. 

This wasn’t always the case though. Brush turkey numbers plummeted during the Great Depression, when people hunted the birds and harvested eggs from their conspicuous nest-mounds. As a result, brush turkeys were locally extinct from North Sydney for more than 80 years. 

Now protected under the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act, this unique native species is one of only three megapodes (ground birds that build a nest-mound of decomposing soil and vegetation in order to incubate their eggs) that still survive in Australia.

Managing brush turkeys on your property

Typically around June or July, male brush turkeys will start to build a new nest-mound, or refresh last season’s successful mound. They relentlessly gather soil and leaflitter from areas surrounding their mound, which is often when these birds come into conflict with residents.

Gardens can be damaged as those large, powerful feet scrape away layers of mulch and ground cover. It is strewn across the ground in a literal stream of mulch material that links the mound with the source location – usually a garden or open space area. Surplus material left by brush turkey scrapings can create a mess in formal landscaped areas and in some cases, become a slippery hazard on public paths and staircases.

The breeding season for brush turkeys is affected by climatic conditions and generally lasts from July to December, though this can be extended during periods of predominantly cooler or wetter weather. 

If you want to deter your local brush turkey from constructing a nest-mound in your garden, taking early action is critical. Once the mound is built and being visited by female brush turkeys, it is an offence to interfere with it. Encouraging a nest mound to be built in a less sensitive part of your garden can have benefits, as male brush turkeys are territorial during the breeding season and will actively keep other males from establishing mounds in their territory.

If you would like to learn more about Brush Turkeys, including ways to ethically and responsibly deter them from your garden, visit the NSW Environment and Heritage website.

Photo by Mark Fuller

Published: 5 June 2024