The Australian Bush Turkey is a creature that is persistent in building its nest! It will rip your garden to pieces given half the chance!
On our rural property, we have several little clumps of banana trees and abundant vegetable areas (above ground). I’m very proud of our garden it’s our sanctuary, my way of calming down from whatever life throws at me. I keep the garden beds neat, tidy, and orderly because it makes it easier to look after everything, and also because I like order around me.
I can see clearly when it’s time to harvest banana bunches, pick a silver beat, re-plant seedlings, and all the other things that go with gardening and improving the environment. There is, however, one little hindrance, a creature that is persistent with destruction! We border bushland and farming pastures, and with that, there are all sorts of wild creatures that like to drop into our property. Wallabies, Eastern Kangaroos, Pythons, Green snakes, the occasional turtle, and Kookaburras are all fine by me. Brown snakes, Red Bellied Black snakes, Cane toads, and “Bush Turkeys” are not so fine. You may be surprised to read, that I can accept the Brown and Red Bellied Black snakes, they are going about their own business, and they don’t dig up our garden, and provided I don’t step on them, they are just part of the landscape. I find the pythons to be very private and quiet beautiful creatures; they don’t make any mess, in fact, the pythons eat any little mice about that would otherwise move in.
However, the “Bush Turkey!!!” He is like my very own ‘Roadrunner’. Probably shows my age, but anyone born in the ’60s or ’70s would remember the cocky cartoon Roadrunner, always outsmarting the hungry Coyote, such a tragic frustrating cartoon to watch!
Well, let’s just say that when God was creating the earth with all its fauna and flora, God must have needed a break, probably around the 5th or 6th day of creation. So the Angels said, ‘No worries big fella, we will work on the creatures, especially the ones for Australia you take a nap’! That’s when the creation of Bush Turkeys, Cane Toads, Mossies, and Bindi grass was created…..Probably Lantarna too, now that’s a plant that cuts you to pieces when trying to trim it down or get rid of it!
I can imagine when God woke up from the ‘nap’ he must have been really freaked out when the Bush Turkey scratched its way into existence. Such defiant birds with strong instincts to build nests for their future mate. Yeah, that’s right the male Bush Turkey likes to build a nest, make it all nice and moist and composty-like, so that the female will notice him.
I can imagine her thinking to herself after observing this ready-made home, ‘Well looky here, I’ve got myself a real nice pad here, somewhere to raise the little ones, protected and safe. This Male has been working day and night to build me this amazing condo, Okay, I’ll stay with him!”
Just like all creatures the Bush Turkey has a desire to create an environment for nesting. The male does the work, he digs, scratches, and claws every little bit of garden matter into a nice round, to attract his female, the bigger the nest, with leaves, grass, and ‘expensive straw’ piled on this nest the better.
I find I’m witnessing a ‘Bush Turkey love triangle’ in the making with, ‘Theodore (that’s my name for the male), and now ‘Lucy, (that’s the female), and blow me away, Froddo, (the other male). Three of them fussing about and causing havoc around my banana tree clump. I found my usually calm demeanor becoming inflamed, at one stage I really lost it. I watched them from the top of the hill, I even thought about getting a slingshot and improving my skill in target practice. Now, that is a cruel thought to have!
Oh dear, I found myself behaving like the characters in Deck The Hall, a very funny Christmas movie about revenge and obsessive behavior. Here’s a link, so you know what I mean. Then I thought about a cartoon I watched as a kid, that drove me nuts, Road Runner and the Coyote! Here’s a link to that cartoon, so you know what I am referring to.
The Roadrunner was this fictional fast ostrich-type bird that eluded the poor coyote, who just wanted to eat. Being a kid and watching this cartoon I would always question how the Coyote could order and pay for all these ACME kits to blow up things, or assist in the plot to kill the Roadrunner when in my tiny young mind I reasoned he could have used his money to buy food or leave the area!
While Looney Tunes’ cartoon roadrunner might have been able to outrun the coyote every time, real-life roadrunners aren’t so lucky. Coyotes can out-pace roadrunners substantially, but for the sake of the cartoon, this bird was clever and smart and the Coyote was too fixated on destroying this bird to assess the danger he put himself in every time! Through watching this cartoon at such a young age I learnt that revenge and anger doesn’t really get you anywhere!
As the saying goes,
‘Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.’
My OCD (Obsessive, Compulsive, Disorder) was in full flare-up, and I was completely aware of what was happening within me, yet still down to that nest area, every morning, scrapping back the leaves, straw, and soil that the birds had pulled off my garden only hours before. Yes, I’m not even ashamed to admit it, I was incessant on returning my garden back to order, just as much as the Turkeys were incessant, instinctively - based on survival, ripping into the garden for their love nest to prevail! I was the threat! The war was as stubborn as you could get, just like a real war that plays out between humans, countries, and families, I was at war with the Bush Turkey, and I was losing. I was looking at it all the wrong way. Bush Turkey is instinctive, as I have said, I am ‘obsessive’, which I can change, I can look at it with light humor and stress about other things, not ‘Bush Turkeys’.
What did I do?
We had heard that using a mirror can ward off the Bush Turkey, because the reflection would be perceived as another Turkey, and with that in theory, the Bush Turkey would give up! I tried the mirror, I think with respect to all the people who advise mirrors, my mirror was too small, so I have yet to invest in a larger mirror. Here’s a video that goes over that theory more specifically.
What I have done, and it has worked to a degree, is I have covered the banana tree clump with pallets, logs, and weighted debre, which makes the banana clump look like a small fortress, but hey it’s working for now. The Turkeys have managed to scrape a little of the leaf matter away, but not get down to the banana tree roots, which means, my banana trees will survive. There are other parts of the garden where these birds are tearing up the ground, I can only do so much, and I can’t let it bring me down, it doesn’t do anyone any good.
However, I have experienced a sufficient workout from all the raking, and pitch forking of garden matter back to the top Banana clump. So I look at it philosophically, ‘What’s the worst thing that can happen?’ The Bush Turkey wins, and little Turkeys come into the world, only to wreak havoc on our garden or someone else’s property!?! They probably will hang around our place, because there is a lot of leaf material for them to continue building nests and propagating the species.
God and the Angels, are having quite a laugh in Heaven, along with my mum, grandparents, and little brothers who were lost at birth. My mother particularly loved farm life, horses, animals in general, and lastly the garden, so she will be happy that I have found a way to navigate around these bothersome creatures.
What have I learned about this war on the Bush Turkey?
Peace comes to those who, allow space to really evaluate the situation, an acceptance for wildlife to do its thing, and at the same time, keeping order where it is possible! It’s natural for the Bush Turkeys to do what they do, I don’t have to like it, I just need to work around it. Now, I’m on my way to pick up some more mirrors, for the other parts of the garden where several other Turkeys have begun their exploration, and building projects!