Charlie, a Malleefowl, is looking for a girlfriend...

Alphamale, a Brush Turkey, is King of the Hill - as far as females are concerned. He gets more than his fair share...

Both are megapodes - big footed fowl who build huge mounds out of moist leaf litter where females lay their eggs.

To megapodes, size is important - the size of the mound that is. They are the only birds that do not sit on their eggs. Instead, they build an elaborate self-heating incubator to hatch their young and leave them to fend entirely for themselves.

While being part of the same family, there are some certain areas where these creatures don't see beak to beak. Where many consider Brush Turkeys to be promiscuous, the Malleefowl mates for life.

Men And Their Megapodes is the extraordinary tale of two vastly different men in vastly different parts of Australia and their love and dedication for their feathered friends - friends who are threatened constantly by predators and environmental changes.

The lush fertile rainforests of the Glasshouse Mountains in Queensland, is home to the Brush Turkey.

Dr. Daryl Jones, a biologist has been studying them for more than 10 years.

These robust, sociable birds are seriously endangered elsewhere but splendidly accessible in Queensland - at least for the moment - but Daryl Jones believes their future is very fragile indeed. Despite the fact that the average female will lay up to 30 eggs in a season, three times her body weight, only 1% of offspring survive.

Meanwhile, thousands of kilometres south in the Little Desert in South Eastern Australia, the Malleefowl is also struggling.

In the desert, mound building is incredibly difficult and the bird population is sparse. A mate is hard to find and Whimpey Reicheldt, a self-taught naturalist, is worried about Charlie, a Mallee fowl who he has been studying for 20 years.

Charlie's mate shot through with a bird from a nearby mound so Whimpey tries to help him find a new one but, while he does what he can to protect Charlie and the other birds, one man can only do so much. More than 3/4 of their habitat has gone and the Malleefowl doesn't cope well with change. They are also hunted by foxes and cats.

Men And Their Megapodes highlights what's really at stake - the survival of the last accessible megapodes on the planet and the fact that these common birds may not be common much longer.

Stewart Carter &
Cath South

Stewart Carter

Rosie Jones

Chris Haywood


1998 ATOM Award -
Best Documentary Science and Technology

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