Mallee Fowl nesting in Nhill Victoria
The area around Nhill is the nesting area of one of Austraila’s megapod (big foot) birds. The Mallee Fowl (Leipoa ocellata) builds the largest nesting mounds of any native bird, a job the males work at for much of the year. In fact mounds are built on from one year to the next and can become quite large, over a metre high and 22 metres in circumference. They are constructed from dirt, mallee leaves and twigs from the surrounding forest of drought resistant mallee, a small type of eucalyptus.
The females lay about 18 eggs each season and bury them in the mound. Both parents tend to them, adding and removing soil and leaves to keep the temperature constant at 32-34 degrees, using their beaks as thermometres. After two to three months, the eggs hatch and the chicks struggle to the surface. Within a day they will strike out to live on their own as their parents play no part in raising them.
Mallee Fowl are on the endangered fauna list so the ones around Nhill and very special. Even Hamish and Andy had a look at a Mallee Fowl mound when they stop in Nhill on the first day of their Caravan of Courage 2 tour.