Mayr, E. 1945.
Birds of the South-west Pacific
117)*Incubator Bird (Megapodius freycinet eremita Hartlaub): Found
throughout the Solomon Isls. Most common along the seashore but
occasionally also inland, rarely above 6oo feet. Breeding habits seem
different on each island, but detailed accurate data are not available.
Incubator Bird (Megapodius freycinet): A dull-colored ground bird of the
size (11-15) and behavior of a chicken. Upperparts dark brown; underparts
sooty gray. Males, females, immatures alike. Two races in the S.W.P.
layardi Tristram (northern New Hebrides, from Efate northward, and Banks
Isls.) back blackish, only slightly tinged with brown; crown with a short
crest; forehead and throat bare with the skin red; legs red.
eremite Hartlaub (Bismarck Archipelago and Solomon lsls.) small and very
dark; bare forehead red; crest very short; legs and feet dusky olive green.
Does much calling at night. Small parties often undertake roosting flights
from the mainland to small offshore islets. It is of interest to take
detailed notes on such roosting flights and on the circumstances of every
nest. Two other species of the genus are found in Micronesia (laperouse)
and in central Polynesia (pritchardii)."
Bregulla, H.L. 1992.
Birds of Vanuatu
"36.lncubatorBird Megapodius freycinet layardi
Other name: Scrubfowl
French name: M6gapode
Bislama names: Skraptak or Sikraptak, Namalau
Length about 3 2.5 cm. A uniformly dark ground-bird with a strong bill,
short tail and distinctively sturdy legs, it is the same size and has some
behaviour in common with the domestic fowl. Adult male is blackish-brown
above, only slightly tinged with brown, and sooty-grey below. The crown has
a short crest and the forehead is bare with red skin which also shows
through the sparsely feathered cheeks and neck. Iris: brown. Bill:
horn-colour to brown. Legs and feet: yellow with black patches on the toes;
the claws are long and broad, like a shovel. Female: similar to the male
but slightly smaller with paler legs and plumage. Immature: resembles adult
but all colours are duller and the legs brownish. Chicks are cryptically
Coloured, mostly buff-brown with numerous dark brown bands across the body,
especially on the wings and back, and pale buff on the abdomen. Iris: light
brown. Bill: dark olive-brown. Legs and feet: yellowish-ochre with
blackish-brown patches especially on the toes. The average weight of newly
hatched chicks is 6o g.
DISTRIBUTION, STATUS AND CONSERVATION
This species, Megapodius freycinet has been re-classified as M. reinwardt
in Australia but no taxonomic evidence is given in Pizzey (198o) or Simpson
and Day (1989). In Campbell and Lack(1985)reference is made to the 9
species of megapodius recognised by Peters (I937), which included 28 races,
and the work of E Mayr in reviewing the genus and recognising just 3
species: M freycinet, M. laperouse, and M. pritcbardii. Authorities
obviously differ and further study is needed. This species with many races
is found from the Nicobar Islands through Indonesia, Borneo, the
Philippines, Papua New Guinea, coastal northern Australia and islands and
the Solomons. The race layardi occurs on virtually all islands in central
and northern Vanuatu. It is mainly a bird of the lowland forest but can
also be found at moderate altitudes. Though still common in suitable
habitat, on some islands, for example Efate, its nesting sites and forest
environment are threatened by encroaching agricultural and other
development. Eggs of this species have been collected as food for centuries
and are a valued source of protein for village people. Only the more
accessible sites were visited and this harvesting of eggs has had little
detrimental effect in the past on the megapode population. With
development, and an increase in the human population and their mobility, it
is by no means certain that these unusual birds will survive without some
measure of official protection. The establishment of Lowland Forest
Reserves around important egg-burying grounds, more efficient control of
illegal shooting and a limit on egg-collecting should be urgently
considered. The Incubator Bird is a game-bird in Vanuatu but it is partly
protected and should only be hunted from I April to 30 June.
It is usually seen singly or in pairs on the forest or thicket floor,
behaving much like a domestic fowl, scratching among the damp
vegetation-litter for food. It is wary, and
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