Brush Turkey, a local name given by the colonists of Australia to a family of birds, the peculiar habits of which are in many respects among the most remarkable facts known in the history of the animal kingdom. The several varieties of this group are now assigned to the family of megapodiidce. There are but about 12 species in all known to belong to this family. All of these are restricted in their range to the eastern archipelagoes of Asia, and to Australia, especially to the latter. The me-gapodiidm are subdivided into the sub-families of talegallinae and megapodiinm. They are also known as New Holland vultures, native pheasants, and jungle fowl. To the most noticeable of this group, talegalla Lathami, the name of brush turkey is chiefly applied - a name derived from the facility with which it eludes pursuit by running through tangled brushwood. Some disagreement has existed among systematists whether it should be classed among the true vultures, or among gallinaceous birds; but it is now by common consent placed among the gallince. The most remarkable circumstance in the economy of this family is its method of hatching.

Some weeks before the commencement of laying, several pairs of birds collect an almost incredible heap of decaying vegetable matter as a depository for their eggs, to be developed by the heat engendered in the process of decomposition. These heaps frequently contain four cart loads of materials, and are constructed in a perfectly pyramidal form. If undisturbed, the same site is resorted to year after year, the birds adding each season a fresh supply just before the period of laying. The eggs are deposited about 12 inches apart, and all buried to the depth of two or more feet; they are uniformly placed with the larger end up, and carefully covered. The chick when produced is fully feathered, and able to provide for its own wants from the moment of leaving the shell. The number of eggs deposited in a single heap is often very great, as many as a bushel being frequently found. From experiments made in heaps collected by birds partially domesticated, the heat of their centre has been ascertained to range as high as 95° F. - The leipoa ocellata, another of this interesting group, deposits her eggs in mounds of sand alternating with layers of dried leaves and grasses.

The megapodius tumulus constructs mounds of earth, said to be often of an immense size, varying from 20 ft. in circumference and 5 ft. in height to a diameter of 20 ft. and a height of 15 ft. In these the eggs are carefully covered up by the parent birds, and buried often to the depth of 6 ft. Other species merely deposit their eggs, in large numbers, in holes excavated on the seashore to the depth of 2 or 3 ft. Nearly all the family, however, are unequivocally mound-builders.

Brush Turkey (Talegalla Lathami).

Brush Turkey (Talegalla Lathami).