|Moluccan Scrubfowl - Picture by Merilyn Browne|
One of the memorable experiences from our recent trip to Indonesia was connecting with the enigmatic Moluccan Scrubfowl on the island of Haruku, off the coast of Ambon. Haruku is one of only two major breeding grounds remaining for this endangered species. The birds land at night in sandy clearings in the rainforest, not far from the beach. They dig a hole 1 metre-deep and deposit a single egg before flying off back into the forest. Sometimes the birds fly considerable distances to reach their nesting places, even crossing water.
|On the boat|
We had already had a long day, being up at 4am for an early morning birding session in the Kai islands, then catching a flight to Ambon before unpacking at our hotel and making the long drive to the harbour, where we boarded our chartered speedboat after dark. After tiptoeing our way around an army of cockroaches aboard the boat, we were off across the waters to Haruku Island.
Most megapodes build large mounds of sand or vegetation in which to lay eggs, carefully adding to or removing the material so eggs are incubated at the appropriate temperature. The young hatch and dig their way to the surface.The fully fledged chicks that emerge from the mound receive no assistance from their parents; they are expected to manage on their own. The Moluccan Scrubfowl is unusual in not building a mound. Its egg weighs about 100g, or 20 per cent of the weight of the adult.