HOW CAN I KEEP BRUSH TURKEYS OUT OF MY GARDEN?
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.