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Australian Brush-turkey (Alectura lathami) Fact Sheet: Distribution & Habitat


Found only in Australia

  • Native to eastern and northeastern Australia (Elliott and Kirwan 2017)
    • Cape York, northern Queensland, to just south of Sydney, New South Wales (Jones and Göth 2008)
  • Introduced (Elliott and Kirwan 2017)
    • Kangaroo Island
    • Dunk Island (off east-central Queensland)
      • May still persist here

Distribution of subspecies

(Elliott and Kirwan 2017)

  • Yellow-pouched Brush-turkey (Alectura lathami lathami)
    • Central and southern Queensland
    • Eastern New South Wales
  • Purple-pouched Brush-turkey (Alectura lathami purpureicollis)
    • Northern Queensland

Changes in distribution

  • Recent changes
    • Disappeared from areas in southern and western Australia (Göth et al. 2006)
    • Range has expanded into suburban areas and coastal areas in eastern Australia (Göth et al. 2006; Elliott and Kirwan 2017)
      • Perceptions of range expansion may also be related to:
        • Increased reporting
        • Reduction of hunting pressure
        • Birds remaining in areas where they are fed by people
  • Historical notes
    • This species once had a much wider distribution (Göth et al. 2006)
      • Ranged south to Cape Howe and as far west as the Pilliga region
    • Early 20th century
      • Range expanded inland due to spread of prickly pear cactus (Göth et al. 2006; Elliott and Kirwan 2017)
        • Australian Brush-turkeys ate fruits and used cactus as mound material in hot, dry regions
        • Distribution contracted as humans removed this plant
      • Southern part of range contracted (Elliott and Kirwan 2017)
    • Later in the 20th century (Jones and Göth 2008)
      • Significant range contraction
      • Probably due to a combination of causes, including hunting and habitat destruction on the East Coast


Typical habitats

  • Rainforest along coasts and tropical-to-warm temperate zones (Elliott and Kirwan 2017)
  • Seems to prefer closed habitats, where vegetation provides cover (Elliott and Kirwan 2017)
  • Sightings in suburban areas have increased since about 2000 (Jones and Göth 2008)

Occurs in a variety of other habitats

(Jones et al. 1995; Elliott and Kirwan 2017, and as noted)

  • Dry or wet sclerophyll woodland (Jones and Göth 2008)
  • Swamp woodland, including mangroves
  • Eucalypt forest
  • Gallery forest
  • Dry creek scrub
  • Human-altered habitats (Jones and Everding 1991; Warnken et al. 2004)
    • Suburban areas
      • Gardens
      • Parks
    • Picnic areas and campgrounds
    • Food attracts Brush-turkeys to these areas
      • Actively fed by people
      • Find food not properly thrown away by people

Preferred habitats

  • Thrives in humid, coastal environments (Grellet-Tinner et al. 2017)
  • Usually only moves into suburban areas near forests or bushland (Jones and Göth 2008)
    • May still depend on habitat areas not overly modified by humans
  • Also see “Incubation Mounds” in Reproduction

Australian Brush-turkey Distribution

Australin Brush-turkey distribution

Australian Brush-turkeys live in eastern and northeastern Australia.

Adapted from according to IUCN fact sheet. Click here or on map for detailed distribution (IUCN).

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