Tips for Deterring Brush Turkeys from Your Garden

Brush turkeys are native Australian birds that are found naturally right along the eastern coast.

If you live near a bushland area, you might find these scrub turkeys invading your garden as they forage for food. This is mainly due to the destruction of much of their native habitat.

However, if you want to stop them from wreaking havoc in your garden, there are a few things that you can do to deter them away from your prized plants.

Brush Turkey 4 | Pest control

Remember, that the Australian bush turkey is a protected species and you should never harm one.

What do brush turkeys eat?

Scrub turkeys like to feast on insects and the seeds and fruits of native plants. 

How to get rid of brush turkeys

Brush Turkey 3 | Pest control

There are a number of things that you can do to keep scrub turkeys out of your garden. These include:

  • Make sure you don’t feed them
  • Clean up any food scraps around your yard
  • Feed your pets inside and don’t leave their food out because scrub turkeys enjoy pet food
  • Make sure to cover your open compost pile and keep the lid on any compost bins you use
  • Don’t leave water out in your garden
  • If a turkey has started creating a mound, prune away any overhanging vegetation to reduce shade for the mound
  • If there are empty mounds in your yard, cover these with a tarpaulin or black plastic
  • Consider putting a large mirror in your yard so that the turkey thinks that the space is already taken

Brush turkey repellent

While there’s no such thing as a brush turkey repellent available here in Australia, in doing some research, I found this really interesting video from a lady in Maleny on how she solved her brush turkey problem by placing teddy bears around her garden.

Why not give this a go and see if it works for you?

Identifying brush turkey nests

The Australian bush turkey’s nest is commonly referred to as a mound as they can be quite large. The mounds are usually built by male brush turkeys and are always located in a shady spot in the garden and made primarily out of leaf litter.

As the litter starts to break down, heat is built up inside the mound which is just perfect for hatching eggs and keeping the chicks nice and warm. 

Brush Turkey 2 | Pest control

Interestingly, the male brush turkey will check the temperature inside the mound quite regularly by sticking his head inside and testing some of the leaves in his beak. Brush turkeys have heat sensors inside their beaks.

If the turkey finds that the mound is getting too hot, he will scratch some of the leaf litter off the top, However, if the mound is too cold, he’ll just continue to add more leaf litter on top.

How to stop brush turkeys from digging up the garden

Here are some steps that you can take to stop visiting scrub turkeys from digging up your garden beds.

Plant ground covers 

Brush turkeys love to forage around in mulch. Therefore, it’s a good idea to cover your garden beds with low-growing native groundcovers instead. This will deter the scrub turkeys from scratching around your prized plants and scattering the mulch all over the place.

Alternatively, you can use other types of ground covering materials such as river gravel or stones as the turkeys will avoid these.

Use tree guards around new plants

To protect young plants that are just getting established, surround these with tree guards. This will stop the turkeys from damaging them and give the plants a chance to grow.

Use chicken wire to cover your mulch

Scrub turkeys don’t like scratching chicken wire so you could use this to cover your mulch pile. This will stop the turkeys from trying to build a nest in the pile.

You could also place some chicken wire under the surface of the mulch on your garden beds as this makes it difficult for the turkey to scavenge through the mulch.

Brush Turkey 1 | Pest control


Do brush turkeys keep snakes away?

A male brush turkey will do everything in his power to protect the eggs in the mound and this includes chasing away snakes.

Are brush turkeys protected?

Yes, Australian bush turkeys are a protected species and should not be harmed in any way.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.


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