Australian Bush Birds
Brush Turkey  -  Alectura lathami
Brush Turkey
Brush turkey investigating possible food at Cape Hillsborough, Queensland.
map map The Brush Turkey - Alectura lathami - is a large black bird with bare red head and neck, black bill and yellow collar; there is a ridge of black bristles from beak to top of the head with denser bristles on the crown. Underside is barred black and white. Body and tail dull black; tail is vertically fan-shaped. Grows 60 to 70 centimetres.

Lives in rainforest and woodlands from temperate to tropical regions; in densely vegetated gullies in wet eucalyptus forests, or in drier scrub further inland. Scratches around the forest floor looking for fallen fruit, seeds and invertebrates. Around tourist sites the species is conspicuous and fairly tame, elsewhere it is wary and runs away from intruders. Flight described as "ponderous", with legs dangling. Mated pairs are often seen at their nest mound tended by the male.

Found along the east coast in Queensland and in New South Wales at least as far south as Port Macquarie.

A variation (subspecies purpurecollis) has a violet-tinged white collar instead of the standard yellow one.

The Brush-turkey is common and widespread but population is being reduced by habitat destruction.