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Orange-footed Scrubfowl

Megapodius reinwardt


Short description: Medium sized bird with yellow to red coloured beak, legs and feet. Brown colouring over the rest of the body. May have a blue tinted neck. Distinctive feature is a black crest on the top of the head

Size: 40-50cm Tall

Colour and shape: Orange legs and feet, black crest on the head. Brown upper wing, head and neck. It has a small downwards pointed tail with an orange/yellow beak.

Mound (nest): large heap of mostly decomposing organic matter (leaves, earth, sticks, debris, sand etc) that are circular or elongated



Diet: Feeds on Berries and roots on the ground. Can feed on small beetles and other insects.

Call: Loud clucks and double crows. Calls in territory but is quieter than most fowls.

Flight: It can fly and does so when threatened by predators however cannot fly large distances.

Breeding: Both sexes build circular or elongated mound out of objects on the ground. Eggs are laid here and incubated by decomposing material. Incubation lasts for up to 100 days as the female lays multiple small eggs once the mound reaches 30 degrees.

What to Observe

  • Courting/mating

  • Calling

  • Feeding

  • Bird on chicks

  • Bird on eggs

  • Bird on nest

  • Bird feeding young

ClimateWatch Science Advisor

We expect birds to start breeding and singing earlier in the year as a result of climate change warming the Earth. They may also start appearing in new areas as warmer temperatures enable them to live in environments that were previously too cold for them. Help scientists answer the question: "How are our animals, plants and ecosystems responding to climate change?"

When To Look

Occurs frequently at night. Breeding occurs from July to March.

Note: ClimateWatch is looking for any changes in the timing of these events so remember to keep a lookout all year!

Where To Look

Is found in Northern Australia WA, NT, QLD. Is terrestrial and common around trees and areas with lots of leaf litter. Adapts well to urban life and can be found around residential gardens in Darwin.

Note:ClimateWatch is looking for any changes outside of their known ranges so remember to keep a lookout beyond these regions too!


Orange-Footed Scrubfowl compiled distribution map - BirdLife International

 Orange-Footed Scrubfowl compiled distribution map - BirdLife International




  • Pizzey, G. and Knight, F. (2007) The Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Sydney, Australia, HarperCollinsPublishers. Pg 20-21
  • Birds in
  • Experts consulted: ClimateWatch Science Advisory Panel




  1. Search Species

  1. What Else?

    Looks similar to a Dusky Moorhen or Purple Swamphen however does not have the blue/pink feathers all over and can be distinguished by the black crest on its head.

  1. Did You Know?

    • The Orange-footed Scrubfowl has low hatching rates due to predators such as foxes and monitor lizards. Can be found up in New Guinea.
    • Orange-footed Scrubfowls have a strong pair bond. Pairs will often call in a duet, meaning they synchronise and overlap their calls. This is remarkable because very few birds do this and those that do are usually songbirds. The Orange-footed Scrubfowl is one of the most 'primitive' of bird species yet practises this complex behaviour.