Brush Turkey

(Alectura lathami)

Other Common Names: Bush Turkey, Scrub Turkey, Wild Turkey

Physical Description

Brush Turkeys are a robust bird growing to an average body length of 60-70cm. The plumage is dark brownish-black and their small head and long neck is bare skinned and reddish in colouring. Males are easily distinguished from the females by their large yellow wattles and redder head while females are plainer with no wattles.


Their preferred habitat is closed canopy vegetation types such as rainforest, wet sclerophyll forest and immediate adjacent environments, though they also inhabit dense scrub or moist gullies within dry woodlands through to suburban backyards. Brush Turkey’s are omnivorous however their staple diet consists of forest fruits and small invertebrates. Within its range in NSW the Brush Turkey has interestingly been listed by some authorities as possibly endangered due to habitat destruction. In Queensland it is a well established within suburban ecology.


Turkey messBreeding occurs from August through to December/January. A large mound which can be from 2m up to 4-6m wide and 1 -1.5m high is constructed out of decomposing vegetation, leaf litter and soil. It is essentially a compost heap that is maintained in temperature by the male by either adding or subtracting material, and is maintained at a steady 32-33°C for the duration of the nesting period. Males will vigorously defend their nest and territory from other males within the area. More than one female may be lured to a single nest by an amorous male, with each capable of depositing up to 24 eggs in a season. Over a season one mound may contain up to 150 eggs with the incubation period lasting approximately 50 days. The eggs are generally larger than a chicken egg, approximately 90mm x 65mm but can vary in size. They are chalky white in appearance becoming stained and a mottled yellowish-brown colour during incubation.

Chicks hatch and dig themselves out of the nest and resemble a quail with huge legs and feet. They are completely independent and capable of flight within hours of hatching. Goannas, snakes, birds of prey, domestic pets and vehicle strikes contribute to high chick mortality; with studies showing adult recruitment is as low as 1 in 200.

Suburban Turkeys

Extensive overhead tree canopies with dense gardens and vegetation underneath provide favourable conditions for the Brush Turkey as it’s very similar to their preferred habitat type of closed forests. The availability of increased feeding resources, roosting and nesting areas, and the expansion of housing development near reserve and parkland areas has contributed to high densities of turkeys within the suburban environment. Breeding opportunities increase due to a higher number of birds means more mounds can be established within short distances, resulting in higher egg yields and adult recruitment. Suburbs within close proximity to reserves, parklands and national parks with dense vegetation connectivity and wildlife corridors may be more likely to attract Brush Turkey activity. The most common complaint in regards to these birds is the destruction of garden areas which can result in plants being destroyed and mulch being spread all over the yard.

Living alongside Brush Turkeys

How can I deter these birds from my home?

All wildlife is protected within Queensland and any attempt to harm or remove animals without the correct permits and licences is illegal. This also includes tampering with nesting and breeding sites. It is important to remember that wildlife will take advantage of suitable conditions available to them when their natural habitat has been modified.

Chasing birds away will have no long term effects as they will utilise the same nesting sites each year. Heavy duty tarps, shade cloth or similar materials can be placed over newly established mounds in an effort to encourage the turkey to move to a new area. Your next door neighbour may be affected by turkey activity also so be sure to have a chat with them to coordinate way to deter the birds from both your yards.

Never feed Brush Turkeys as it encourages them to stay within the area for free handouts. If you feed your pets outside do so in an area where birds cannot get to it and ensure your rubbish is covered.

Consider planting low-growing species of plants that provide a thick ground cover when designing a garden. This helps in preventing turkeys from scratching away mulch and topsoil. Chicken wire or wire mesh can be layered below the soil surface or under mulch to make it difficult for the turkey to rake along the ground. Using gravel instead of mulch in garden areas can be incorporated or protection such as tree guards can be placed around plants to protect from root disturbance.

Advice & Relocation

Our licensed professionals can provide you with ecological advice and specialised trapping equipment along with the safe translocation of Brush Turkeys. During trapping and through to their release every effort is made to ensure the welfare and safe handling of these birds. Release sites are pre selected prior to removal to ensure the habitat is suitable for their ecological requirements. All trapping and relocation of these birds is conducted in accordance with permits and licences issued by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP) and Animal Ethics Committee (AEC). These permits and licences are only issued where the knowledge and suitability requirement to manage turkeys effectively has been met under stringent conditions.

Give your local Brush Turkey specialist a call today on 0439 506 874 Or you can email us at