HOW CAN I KEEP BRUSH TUR­KEYS OUT OF MY GAR­DEN?

Gardening Australia - - EXPERT ADVICE -

Gra­hame, Gos­ford, NSW

AWell, this is the mil­lion-dol­lar ques­tion! In the spirit of gar­den­ing ca­ma­raderie, here is what our panel of ex­perts has tried (mostly in vain). The bot­tom line re­ally is: pro­tect your prize plants with phys­i­cal bar­ri­ers, and learn to live with th­ese in­ter­est­ing crea­tures the rest of the time. They are just af­ter a com­fort­able home, like the rest of us!

Phil Dud­man says Call­ers to my ra­dio show in North­ern NSW have made all sorts of quirky sug­ges­tions in the past, from po­si­tion­ing mir­rors about the place to give the visi­tor the im­pres­sion that this spot is al­ready oc­cu­pied, to in­stalling small, pop-up, dome-shaped beach shel­ters to mimic an­other turkey’s nest. But this one takes the cake: the caller said he in­stalled a life-size, cor­flute cut-out of him­self, which did the job of keep­ing the turkey out (or should I say, of scar­ing it away). My ques­tion to him was, ‘how did you just hap­pen to have a life-sized print of your­self ly­ing about?’ Turns out he fell in love with a Swedish woman who was here on hol­i­days, and they de­cided to marry. Sadly, when she went home to tell her par­ents, he couldn’t get time off work, so he sent her off with his cor­flute stand-in, decked out in his tradie work gear.

El­iz­a­beth Swane says Liv­ing very close to the bush, we ex­pect the wildlife to visit. Brush tur­keys have wan­dered along the ve­ran­dah rail­ing, star­tling our kelpie, but for­tu­nately didn’t stay to build a nest in our gar­den. Good friends who live on Syd­ney’s North­ern Beaches had an amaz­ing

ex­pe­ri­ence where a res­i­dent brush turkey re­moved their en­tire leaf mulch layer more than 100m down the steeply slop­ing block to build an enor­mous nest, 1m high and 2.5m wide. Eggs were laid, and once the chicks hatched, the brush tur­keys left the mound of com­post and leaf lit­ter behind – ready for the hu­mans to drag back up the slope! When fences were built the fol­low­ing year, the brush tur­keys de­cided to nest in neigh­bour­ing gar­dens in­stead.

Judy Horton says I have tried many de­ter­rents to stop them mak­ing huge mounds in my gar­den. I’ve propped up mir­rors on wheelie bins; tried glass-eyed, metal cut-out cat scar­ers; made a lot of noise and flap­ping; and even moved their mulch pile to an outer area of the gar­den. None worked. But it’s worth not­ing that the fol­low­ing sea­son, the brush tur­keys did me a favour. I had re­cy­cled some com­pressed coco-fi­bre grow bags from a lo­cal vegie grower, and the brush tur­keys kindly scratched out their con­tents and spread them around! They are amaz­ing birds, so I’m try­ing to learn to love them, while at the same time pro­tect­ing my gar­den beds with pegged-down chicken wire.

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