The Maleos of Indonesia, birds that can fly from the day they hatch
September 10, 2013 7:12 AM   Subscribe

Megapode, Greek for "large foot," refers to refers to 12 species of Australasian chickenlike birds (order Galliformes), which have small heads compared to their bodies, and large feet. They are also known as Mound Builders, or Incubator Birds, as they bury their eggs in some warm material, most commonly fermenting or decomposing plant matter. But on Sulawesi island in Indonesia, Maleos bury their eggs in sun-baked or volcanically heated sands, then depart. The young hatch from their large eggs (5 times the size of chicken eggs), then dig out of their sandy incubators and walk or fly away. If you can't make it to Indonesia to see the birds in person, you can also visit the Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo to see their 9 Maleos, or check out their video about Maleos and the zoo's breeding program. posted by filthy light thief (5 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
All I know about megapodes is that Douglas Adams wrote a Hypercard stack to calculate their nest volume. I suspect this may have been as a displacement activity from writing…
posted by scruss at 7:34 AM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite] basically, they are firelizard-chickens?
posted by tavella at 9:46 AM on September 10, 2013

Hooraaaay!! The only other place to see them is here in New Yoooork!!!
posted by Mooseli at 12:06 PM on September 10, 2013

Ho the megapode!

Provider of much mirth and good spirits in a veritable heyhoe-rumbelow.

Actually, those are some pretty bad-ass chicken-ducks. First of all, you gotta get hatched, which is tough enough, then you have to dig your way out while fighting off the ants. Plus they're hatched nearly fully fledged, then they zoom away.

If they look like a chicken, quack like a chicken duck, it must be a megapode.
Xeno-canto has the dulcet song of the megapode.
posted by BlueHorse at 1:16 PM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd bet anything that the feces of the ones that rely on decaying vegetation to warm their eggs would make absolutely ideal compost starter.

They're browsers, so their bacteria should have no trouble with leaves and such, and I wouldn't be surprised if they turned out to be low methane emitters too, since emitted methane would represent a loss of heat-generating potential.
posted by jamjam at 10:57 AM on September 11, 2013

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