Project Description

Beautifully illustrated and magnificently comprehensive, The Megapodes is the most authoritative guide on the subject available. Distributed over Australia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, The Philippines, the Nicobar Islands of India, and several southwest Pacific Islands, the Megapodes are heavy-bodied birds of the forest floor (they can fly, but move mostly by walking) who forage for insects, seeds, and fallen fruit.  The only birds known to use external heat sources rather than body heat for incubation, their young emerge fully able to fend for themselves and receive no parental care.  The first part of the book provides an overview of the family as a whole; describes their taxonomy, distribution, biology, and behavior; and focuses on the physiological, ecological, and behavioral adaptations that have resulted from its unique incubation technique. The second part features 22 species accounts, each of which contains a complete description of the bird in its natural state.  Each account is based on the best literature available, the authors’ own field research, and information collected from the distinguished efforts of the Megapode Specialist Group. Sonograms are included where possible. This volume–as with others in the Bird Families of the World series–will be indispensable to professional and amateur ornithologists alike.

Bird Families of the World is a new multivolume series of handbooks that will prove indispensable to both the professional scientist and the ever-growing body of amateur ornithologists.  Each volume will provide a comprehensive synthesis of current knowledge on one bird family or several related families.  In each book the reader will find: six to nine general chapters on the biology, feeding ecology, breeding behavior, evolutionary relationships, and conservation of birds in the family; specially commissioned color plates by a leading artist; black-and-white illustrations of anatomy and behavior; descriptions of each species that cover appearance, weight, measurements, field characters, voice, habitat, food, breeding behavior, life cycle, range, and status (with distribution map). They will provide the most comprehensive and up-to-date species-level information available.

Front cover
Project Details

Date: 1995
Pages: 304 pages

  Oxford University Press, USA

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Dr René Dekker

L4a-RenéDr René Dekker, Director of Collections, Naturalis Biodiversity Center, The Netherlands. René is one of the founder members of the Megapode Specialist Group and co-author of ‘The Megapodes’

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Chicks have fully developed wings at hatching. They dig themselves out of the ground and then run into cover. Within a day they can fly. Their parents do not take care of them: they fend completely for themselves

Megapodes don't incubate their eggs themselves, but some bury them in ground warmed by volcanic heat or by the sun (e.g. beaches), others like the MALLEEFOWL (here on top of its mound) use their big feet (mega-podes!) to scratch together a mound and dig a hole in it, which they fill with organic litter and cover again with sand. In this egg chamber, where the rotting of the organic material creates heat, they later dig a hole in which they lay their eggs once the temperature inside is around 32 degrees Celsius. They measure the temperature in the mound with sensors inside the beak and keep the mound at a constant temperature by adding or removing leaves and sand and allowing rainfall in to stimulate the heat generating decomposition of the organic material