Monday, 20 February 2012

Queen of the Backyard

A female Australian Brush-turkey on a backyard's fence.

Stupid, ugly and invasive. These are the most common terms used to refer to this big, ground bird whose secret life has something truly remarkable. The male builds a nest, a mound that can be up to 4 meters across and 2m high, he gathers the material scratching ground litter and other organic matter with his large and powerful feet. Right in the middle of the mound, one or more females lay their eggs and leave them to the care of the father who will cover them with decomposing organic material to keep them warm. Checking the temperature of the nest with his beak, the male will scratch off some litter to cool it down or add some more to keep it warm and will also defend the area with great bravery from predators such as goannas and snakes. 

The sex of the young depends on the temperature, just like crocodiles. After hatching, the chick finds his way up to the surface, and leave the nest on its own, completely able to provide for itself with no help from the parents, it is already able to fly and will roost on trees for the night just like the adults. Yes, they are destructive, whether they decide to build a nest or not in someone's backyard, when they scratch the ground for food they can destroy everything, seedlings, small plants, vegetables, and they dig out even sweet potatoes to eat the tuber. But they definitely thrive in many suburban or inhabited areas.

 They showed to be able to adapt to the invasion of humans a couple of hundred years ago and to take the best advantage out of the new situation. For some, they're probably not as beautiful or regal as peacocks, but they certainly reveal a successful story of adaptability towards the change brought by the Europeans. The Australian Brush-turkey - Alectura lathami - .
An amazing insight book about the way Australian birds had to adapt to the harsh Australian environment, to the first human immigrations of the Aborigines and to the latest of the Europeans is Boom and Bust: 
Highly recommended.


  1. She is really the queen. Beautiful. And to see this in your backyard, fantastic. Your painting of the turkey is marvelous.
    Lovely greet

  2. Some really interesting information about the bird.
    I really like its facial expression and the details of the leaves in the background!

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  4. Fascinating bird, Matteo. I wonder if it would be considered as "invasive" if it was more attractive.

  5. Haha! The first time I saw one, I took a photo not realising it was to be the first of MANY!! I think there's actually a race that has a purple head and neck - I don't know if that'd be better or worse!!

    Your pictures are better than the real thing!!

  6. Your painting is excellent; it summoned me to recall a time some years ago, when we were frequented by a pair of brush turkeys hopping over our little steel fence (the exact same kind).

  7. Your paintings are incredible. Great pieces of art. Thank you for sharing.

  8. The textures in the Brush-turkey feathers are incredible - you've done an amazing job, I can feel them ....

  9. Dear Matteo,
    Thank you for sharing such beautiful work. I've looked through all your sections above. Sensitive,beautiful,dedicated & so sophisticated, shining like jewellery. Above all,these animals are all familiar to my eyes. Look forward to your upcoming work. Hope one day, we can bump on somewhere in Australia!
    Also, thank you for vising my blog.
    Best wishes,Sadami

  10. Thank you everybody for the always flattering comments, leaving me speechless...
    Sadami, your work is awesome and I'm so glad you're following this blog!
    Best wishes everybody!

  11. Hello Matteo
    Fantastic composition. The horizontal lines of the bird contrast with the vertical ones which form vegetation


  12. I very much enjoy the design in this. One of the things that I enjoy about your work Matteo is your dance with detail/realism and mystery (the fading out of colors and objects). This contrast is something that is quite mesmerizing. Can't wait to see more.

  13. Thank you J.S. for the comment, I really appreciate your support. Thank you


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