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Journal of BirdLife Australia

Field discovery, mound characteristics, bare parts, vocalisations and behaviour of Bruijn’s Brush-turkey (Aepypodius bruijnii)

Iwein Mauro
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PO Box 289, Sorong 98401, Indonesia. Email:

Emu 105(4) 273-281
Submitted: 15 November 2004  Accepted: 13 October 2005   Published: 21 December 2005


Bruijn’s Brush-turkey (Aepypodius bruijnii), known only from the Indonesian island of Waigeo, has managed to remain almost entirely unknown for more than 120 years since its formal description in 1880. Its recent rediscovery in the field is reported in detail here. The distinctive phases through which the incubation mounds of this species pass are concisely described and illustrated for the first time. Field observations of live birds revealed that the supposedly diagnostic, long pendulous nape wattles described from specimens and traditionally attributed to the adult male are either inflated extensions of the nape shield exclusively associated with courtship display or are an artefact of specimen preparation. This observation is even more significant against the backdrop of the unresolved exact provenance of the historical Bruijn material, which is considered here to have been secured within the montane breeding zones of the species. Two different types of vocalisations directly associated with anxiety and distress are also reported. Finally, various aspects of this brush-turkey’s behaviour, life history and social organisation are described, corroborating and adding considerable detail to previous assumptions founded on its generic affinities.


Field work was funded through two grants of the Van Tienhoven Foundation for International Nature Protection and a donation received from Project Bird Watch/Indonesian Parrot Project (PBW/IPP). R. W. R. J. Dekker, in his capacity of Chairman of the WPA/Birdlife/SSC Megapode Specialist Group (MSG), has been a constant source of advice, logistical support and encouragement. M. van Balgooy, H. Nooteboom and W. Vink at the National Herbarium, Leiden, assisted with botanical identifications. M. LeCroy (AMNH, New York) and F. Steinheimer helped to unravel the history of ornithological exploration of Waigeo. This paper benefited from the dedicated comments of D. N. Jones, A. Göth and two anonymous referees. On the island, village authorities and landowners kindly granted permission to enter traditionally owned land, and more than 20 field assistants contributed immensely to the results presented here. To all these people and institutions I extend my sincerest thanks.


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