Nicobar Scrubfowl

Many species are not investigated because there are few specimens. However, this has not always been the fault of man. In the case of Nicobar Scrubfowl, it has been reduced by natural phenomena.

What is their habitat?

This species is called megapodius nicobariensis and is a species of the family megapodiidae, in the Nicobar Scrubfowl that inhabits some of the islands of Nicobar in India.

This species is found exclusively on the islands of Nicobar, and since 2004 has been vulnerable, as it is believed that the tsunami that occurred that same year was able to wipe out the population on some islands and reduce it on others.

What does it look like?

It is a medium-sized species measuring between 33-35 cm. There is no sexual dimorphism, so the only way to differentiate the male from the female is through size. Generally, these are a little smaller than the male.

Its plumage is brown and has a tail. Like the other members of the megapodius family, it has very large feet that allow him to run long distances in a very short time. His tarsi are tailless and have a rear finger, which allows him to grasp the objects better.

Its tail has twelve feathers. Its head is greyish and has a reddish-brown crown, with a reddish caruncle in the area of the face surrounding the eyes. Males appear to have darker tones than females, which are more greyish in their lower parts. However, this is not always the case for subspecies.

The younger specimens have their faces completely covered with feathers, while the newborn chicks have a small tail that is similar to that of partridges, with the presence of a red striping in the back area.

Two subspecies have been recognized:

  • Megapodius nicobariensis nicobarensis: Which is found in the central islands of Nicobar.
  • Megapodius nicobariensis abbotti: Lives on the southern islands of Nicobar.

Any interesting facts about the species?

The truth is that we don’t know very well how this species got to the island. Like the rest of her family, she is a very bad flyer but a very good runner. It is therefore believed that they could have been introduced by the indigenous people who arrived on the island and who were somehow domesticated by the locals. In fact, in some parts of the island there are still people working with these birds to domesticate them.

In its habitat, this species is quite discreet. During the day it travels through the jungle, while at night it goes out along the coast. They usually move in pairs or small groups. These groups can be composed of birds of different spices. If they are disturbed, they prefer to run away, although they may end up trying to fly if they are very nervous. A curiosity about this bird is that the contact they make is with calls that sound like laughter.

It is an omnivorous species that scudders to find its food in different types of soil. It is composed of seeds of the macaranga peltata type, insects, snails, crustaceans and reptiles. They may also eat gravel to help their stomach digest. On some occasions they have also been seen drinking rainwater.

It builds large nesting mounds near the shores, composed of coral sand, shells and plant material that can rot easily. They are built on open land or next to logs. The egg-laying season is between February and May. The male may mate with more than one female, although there have been cases of some specimens that in each mating season only mate with one female.

The female will lay four to five eggs per mound, although cases of up to ten have been reported. Then the mounds are covered and the eggs are incubated for about 70-80 days. The chicks are already born with feathers and once they are dry they can fly away. Because adult chicks flock to the shores at night, chicks can join adults shortly after hatching.

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