The march of the brush turkey
This tenacious Australian bird has been defiantly spreading across the east coast to reclaim much of its pre-European range.
The natural range of the bird – also known as the bush or scrub turkey – stretches along the east coast from far north Queensland to the Illawarra, south of Sydney. It has never been endangered, but after several centuries of habitat loss and predation by cats and foxes, it did become scarce across large areas.
So what was this prehistoric-looking creature doing in the concrete jungle of Neutral Bay, 4km from the city’s CBD, rather than in the deep shadows of the forest? Until the past 20 years or so, turkeys were virtually unknown south of the Hawkesbury River, but, as I soon discovered, they have been on the march in recent decades, determinedly reclaiming their likely historic range. Some Sydneysiders greeted their arrival as a wildlife good-news story, but for others, it meant the outbreak of war in the suburbs…