Nature conservation

Threatened species

Australian Brush-turkey population in the Nandewar and Brigalow Belt South Bioregions - profile

Indicative distribution

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The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Alectura lathami - endangered population
Conservation status in NSW: Endangered Population
Commonwealth status: Not listed
Gazetted date: 21 Oct 2005
Profile last updated: 01 Dec 2017


The Australian Brush-turkey is a large ground-dwelling bird of length 85 cm, wingspan 60-70 cm and approximate weight 2.3 kg. The species is mostly black with a bright red head and neck which is almost entirely bare in male birds but the head and neck of females are covered with small dark bristles. A yellow pouch occurs at the base of the neck in both sexes, and in breeding males this pouch becomes enlarged. The tail is prominent and laterally flattened, and the legs are strong and powerful.


The Australian Brush-turkey has a largely coastal distribution from Cape York south as far as the Illawarra in NSW. It occurs in forested and wooded areas of tropical and warm-temperate districts, particularly above 300 m to at least 1200 m altitude. A population of the Australian Brush-turkey is known from the Nandewar and Brigalow Belt South Bioregions. Recent records for the species show the population to range from north east of Warialda, to Narrabri, approximately 115 km to the south-west, and occur within the local government areas of Yallaroi, Bingara, Narrabri, Barraba and Moree Plains. The majority of records are from Mount Kaputar National Park and nearby Deriah State Forest, with a smaller cluster of records from Warialda State Forest. An outlying 2003 record is also known from just north of Severn State Forest, approximately 75 km north-east of Warialda, in the Inverell Local Government Area. It is thought that a western expansion in the range of the Australian Brush-turkey followed the spread in the early 1900s of the exotic weed Prickly Pear, which the species used for food and mound construction (Marchant and Higgins 1993). Currently, records nearest this population are north of the Queensland-NSW border, approximately 40 km to the north-east. There are no records between the population and the eastern escarpment, a distance of at least 120 km. The population of the Australian Brush-turkey in the Nandewar and Brigalow Belt South Bioregions is therefore both disjunct and at the western limit of the species' range in NSW. In NSW the inland vegetation type preferred by the Australian Brush-turkey is a dry rainforest community that is found within the Semi-evergreen Vine Thicket in the Brigalow Belt South and Nandewar Bioregions Endangered Ecological Community.

Habitat and ecology

  • Usually prefers dry rainforest that is found within the Semi-evergreen Vine Thicket
  • Birds build nesting mounds in areas of dense vegetation. This provides ample litter for the mound building and decompositision process, as well as shade to reduce moisture loss from the mound
  • Tall trees such as eucalypts are used for nocturnal and diurnal roosting (15 - 20m above the ground).
  • Feeds on a variety of food types including seeds, fruits, grain, insects, earthworms, and occasionally reptiles and carrion
  • Mound building and maintenance continues for most of the year but little detail is known of breeding, egg laying, and incubation seasons in the inland Nandewar and Brigalow Belt population
  • Females may lay their eggs in several different mounds, while males may tend and mantain two mounds at once.

Regional distribution and habitat

Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.


Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

Information sources

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region
Brigalow Belt SouthLiverpool Plains Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthNorthern Basalts Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthNorthern Outwash Predicted None
NandewarInverell Basalts Known None
NandewarKaputar Known None
NandewarNandewar Northern Complex Known None
NandewarPeel Known None