Composting: It’s for the Birds.

I’ll end the series of compost posts with the story of an Australian bird that composts:

“In Australia, there is a bird called the Brush-turkey (Alectura lathami) that builds compost piles to incubate the eggs so that they won’t have to sit on them! They build mounds of decomposing vegetation, and the heat produced by the microbial decay maintains the eggs at about 33°C (92°F), 15°C warmer than the ambient air temperature. Because each nest generates more than 20 times the heat production of a resting adult Brush-turkey, many more eggs can be incubated this way than if they relied on warmth from the parent birds. Initially the adult birds tend the composting nest, occasionally mixing and either adding or removing vegetation as needed to regulate the temperature, which they sense through their bills. After this initial adjustment, the nests require little attention, and larger ones can stay warm for several weeks without tending.”
(From Nancy Trautmann’s article on the Cornell Composting site)

Image from David Cook Wildlife Photography (kookr)

“A brush-turkey will take a large mouthful of the mound to check whether it’s at the right temperature. They have highly accurate heat sensors inside their upper bill. When the temperature is too high, the male will rake material off the top layer to allow heat to escape. If the temperature is too low, the male will heap more material onto the mound to build its insulation.”
(From The Queensland Government’s Australian Brush Turkey Article)

Cool, right?!

For more on the Australian Brush Turkey, check out this link.

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