Turkey news

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Turkey news
From: knightl <>
Date: Sun, 1 Aug 2004 12:35:48 +1000 0,5936,10292878%255E3102,00.html

City turkeys spread their wings

RESIDENTS illegally catching and relocating brush turkeys have unintentionally helped spread the garden-busting birds all over Brisbane.

A study has found the birds have gone from being rarely seen 40 years ago to occupying 73 greater Brisbane suburbs, including the city heart.

The birds, black with a red head and neck, are a little larger than a domestic hen.

They are loved and sometimes hated, the latter for the cocks' habit of tearing apart fashionable rainforest gardens as they build a mound to which females will be attracted.

A paper written by Griffith University senior lecturer in ecology Darryl Jones says the spread of the birds through the suburbs is a remarkable occurrence.

His work with Birds Queensland found that hunting up to the 1950s had put such pressure on the turkeys they were rarely seen.

But they made a dramatic recovery from the mid to late '70s after legislation was enacted that protected most native birds except species such as duck and quail.

In the '70s they were reported at just a few spots such as Mt Coot-tha, Corinda, Indooroopilly and Chapel Hill.

In 1983, they were reported in 27 Brisbane suburbs.

Now the birds with attitude are found at the Botanic Gardens off George St, at Spring Hill, Petrie Tce and as widely spread as Ironbark, 50km west of the CBD, to Carindale in the southeast, Petrie 27km north and Cornubia, 32km south.

Dr Jones said the most significant finding was brush turkeys in suburbs far from any previously known breeding populations in dry forests which were not their habitat.

"I was totally surprised at the extent of coverage. It's bizarre," he said.

Turkeys were living at places such as Toohey Forest on the city's southside and nesting in nearby back yards where gardens were watered.

"It's an interesting ecological experiment that is going on.

"I've got no hesitation in saying this massive expansion is almost entirely due to birds being taken places by humans."

Dr Jones said interfering residents were either capturing the birds themselves or having animal pest control companies do so.

"And the more they end up in back yards, the more dramas occur," he said.

But few birds living in the human-dominated environment managed to successfully raise chicks, with cats a major predator.

The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service estimates as few as one in 200 chicks survive.

Birds Queensland sought the study in which 126 people took part for 14 months up to March last year.

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