Cairns to Cape Tribulation

Information for Orange-footed scrubfowl - Megapodius reinwardt

Eukaryota >Animalia > Chordata > Aves > Galliformes > Megapodiidae > Megapodius > Megapodius reinwardt

Orange-footed scrubfowl
Megapodius reinwardt

Building huge mounds for nests, these chicken sized megapodes are a regular sight between Cairns and Cape Tribulation.


Orange-footed scrubfowl - Megapodius reinwardt in the Daintree Rainforest - Photo by Alex Pawlow


The males build large mounds of mainly leaf material, which produces heat when it decomposes. The nest is often shared between other scrub fowl, and one nest (see photos) on the Daintree River has around 4-5 birds sharing it. The mound is the largest nest of any Australian bird, reaching up to 3 metres high

The female spends most of her time forraging for food to generate enough nutrition to lay a large egg, which is buried in the mound. When the chicks hatch, they take a breather for 24-48 hours, and then fly away. They are now totally independent of the parents.

The call of the Orange Footed Scrub Fowl is very distinctive, and if you are staying in the rainforest, it is likely that you will hear it at night. They are unusual in that the male and female will synchronise and overlap their calls.

They feed mostly on small arthropods, and fallen fruit, which they forrage for by scratching up leaf litter and soft dirt with their strong legs. This habbit makes them not so popular with gardeners as they tend to make a mess of your neatly mulched garden beds.