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Moundbuilders: Megapodiidae

Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Malleefowl (leipoa Ocellata): Species Accounts, Maleo (macrocephalon Maleo): Species AccountsPHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS, GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, MOUNDBUILDERS AND PEOP

MALLEEFOWL (Leipoa ocellata): SPECIES ACCOUNTS
MALEO (Macrocephalon maleo): SPECIES ACCOUNTS

Moundbuilders have big, strong legs and feet. The short bill curves downward, and most moundbuilders look like other galliforms (members of the order Galliformes) in body shape and dull coloring. There are a few species that have patterned plumage (feathers), but in these birds, the patterning helps conceal them from predators.

Moundbuilders weigh between 1.1 and 5.5 pounds (0.5 to 2.5 kilograms) and measure 11 to 27 inches (28 to 70 centimeters) in length.


Primarily in Australia and New Guinea as well as on islands throughout the southeastern Pacific and Southeast Asia.


Moundbuilders must live in regions where climate conditions encourage the decomposition of organic matter, and so they prefer tropical and subtropical rainforests. Only the malleefowl and the Australian brush-turkey can be found in habitats outside the rainforest.


Most of what moundbuilders eat comes from the forest floor. These birds feed on fallen fruits, seeds, ants, scorpions, and even small snakes. Although most of this food gets eaten as the birds dig through forest leaf-litter, they do seek out specific types of food, fruit being one of these.

Humans have traditionally harvested the birds' eggs, which are rich in protein. Although native people have been harvesting eggs for thousands of years, the recent human population growth has proven to be more than the moundbuilder population can sustain, and overharvesting has become a serious problem.


Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirds