Mike's Amazing Mound Builders

Mike Jarvis (Experience the Wild, Darwin) describes the Orange-footed Scrubfowl as a "champion compost-heap builder".

Written by Simon Mustoe

Being buried alive is one of our worst nightmares but for newly-hatched Orange-footed Scrubfowl, that's exactly what happens when they first hatch from the egg. We're still not sure exactly how they manage to avoid suffocating whilst they fight their way up through dirt and leaves from 50cm underground and fly away almost as though they'd been reborn.

Mike Jarvis from Northern Territory's 'Experience the Wild' describes the life history of these remarkable birds and the mound that they build to incubate their eggs. The result of many years hard labour, the mound pictured in the video is almost six feet tall and the female will lay eggs repeatedly throughout the year.

Orange-footed Scrubfowl are in the family 'megapode' meaning big-footed. Those awesome claws and bright orange legs are used for construction of their mound, advertising their sexual dominance and scraping leaves and dirt in search of berries and insects.

Australians from the east coast may be more familiar with the Brush Turkey, another Megapode but in Darwin and the Top-End, they are replaced by scrubfowl. They are so common, you can expect to see them running around suburban streets and gardens. These birds were videoed at East Point, an area of monsoon forest and parkland just near Darwin's thriving urban centre. ☐

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This video was filmed whilst Mike Jarvis guided us recently through Northern Territory for the Tourism Australia National Landscapes Nature Series. It was a real pleasure for us to spend time with Mike. We are generally quite undemanding but Mike was always on hand with that cup of iced water, a coffee early in the morning and a friendly smile, balancing with his knowledge and enthusiasm for the birds and animals of the area.

If you want to book an experience with Mike, call 08 8234 8324 (Australia) or +61 8 8234 8324 (if overseas).


Being buried alive is one of our worst nightmares but for newly-hatched Orange-footed Scrubfowl, that's exactly how they hatch from the egg. We're not sure exactly how but they manage to fight their way up through dirt and leaves from 50cm underground and fly away almost as though they'd been reborn.

Mike Jarvis from Northern Territory's 'Experience the Wild' describes the life history of these remarkable birds and the mound that they build to incubate their eggs. The result of many years hard labour, the mound pictured in the video is almost six feet tall and the female will lay eggs repeatedly throughout the year.

Orange-footed Scrubfowl are in the family 'megapode' meaning big-footed. Those awesome claws and bright orange legs are used for construction of their mound, advertising their sexual dominance and scraping leaves and dirt in search of berries and insects.

Australians from the east coast may be more familiar with the Brush Turkey, another Megapode but in Darwin and the Top-End, they are replaced by scrubfowl. They are so common, you can expect to see them running around suburban streets and gardens. These birds were videoed at East Point, an area of monsoon forest and parkland just near Darwin's thriving urban centre.


Locations visited

East Point

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