Brush Turkey

To: "'Graeme Stevens'" <>, "'Tom Wilson'" <>, "'Paul Doyle'" <>, <>
Subject: Brush Turkey
From: "Greg & Val Clancy" <>
Date: Mon, 8 Jun 2020 17:08:58 +1000

I was bemused when I read in 1976 in the Readers Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds that the distribution was given as “From Cape York to the Manning River, NSW”.  At that time I had banded over 20 Brush Turkeys at Tumbi Umbi on the Central Coast of NSW.  In the text of the book it states “does not exist south of Sydney and is seldom seen south of the Manning River”.


Greg Clancy


From: Birding-Aus <> On Behalf Of Graeme Stevens
Sent: Sunday, June 7, 2020 8:07 PM
To: Tom Wilson <>; Paul Doyle <>;
Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Brush Turkey


I agree with Tom. They are staging a remarkable recovery into what was perhaps their previous range. (I watch an active mound from my study window in St Ives, Sydney)


In "The Birds Of Sydney" Hindwood and McGill, 1958 they were only on the Provisional List for Sydney awaiting additional evidence for their inclusion - and I quote:


"The type locality has been stated as 'Sydney' in the official Checklist (1926) and 'near Sydney' in Matthews' Systema Avium Australasianarum (1927). However there is no evidence that the species was to be found closer to Sydney than in the Illawarra district. It appears to have been shot-out in those parts by cedar-cutters and others about 100 years ago, for Gould remarks (Handbook to the Birds of Australia vol. 2, 1865, p. 151) that it was 'nearly extirpated' at the time of his visit in 1840. It is likely that its range included the south-eastern portion of the County (of Cumberland GS) near Bulli. Some thirty years ago the species was reported from unsettled country adjacent to the Shoalhaven River, well to the south of the County. Recently, birds were said to have been observed in gullies leading to the Cataract Dam west of Bulli. If such is the case they may have originated from a pair that probably survived liberation at Mt. Keira in October, 1948."


It's fascinating to see how species distributions change over comparatively short periods of time and the factors that may be involved. Again I am in furious agreement with Tom. Sydney numbers seem to have increased since active baiting of foxes particularly in Ku-Ring-Gai National Park. Swamp Wallaby numbers have also increased.


BTW I was excited to buy my copy of Keith Hindwood and Arnold McGills' book the day it was announced at a joint RZS  and RAOU (now Birdlife) meeting for 12 shillings and sixpence autographed by both authors. I was 13 and greatly privileged to be mentored by Keith. He nominated me for membership of the RAOU and yes in those ancient times one had to be nominated and seconded for membership!


Best Regard - and good birding


Graeme Stevens 

(St Ives - and Salamander Bay) 


Hi Paul

They have been persistently pushing southwards through Sydney (back into their ancestral range) for some years now, which I reckon is due to fox control as much as anything else.  But I think there was always an isolated population on the Illawarra – whether yours is part of the southerly push or has come slightly north is harder to say.  If you have recently mulched your garden, what I will say’ll all end up in some egg laying mound.


Tom Wilson


From: Paul Doyle

Sent: Sunday, June 7, 2020 5:00 PM

Subject: [Birding-Aus] Brush Turkey


Hi all,

Just found a Brush Turkey in my garden at Como on the Woronora River, South of Sydney this afternoon.

I had no idea they had got this far South.



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