Waigeo Brush-turkey Aepypodius bruijnii


Justification of Red List Category
This species is classified as Endangered because it has a very small range and population, which are undergoing continuing declines owing to a number of factors including logging, fire, hunting and predation by dogs.

Population justification
The total population is estimated to number at least 980 mature individuals, roughly equivalent to over 1,400 individuals in total.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be declining at a slow or moderate rate, owing to hunting, predation by dogs and habitat loss.

Distribution and population

Aepypodius bruijnii is endemic to Waigeo, West Papuan Islands, Indonesia, where until recently it was known only from 21 specimens (most recently collected in 1938) (Holmes 1989, Jones et al. 1995, Voisin et al. 2000) with the only specified locality being Jeimon, on the east side of Majalibit Bay. Despite more than 15 ornithological expeditions and reconnaissance visits actively searching for this bird it was not relocated until 2002, when one was seen in hill ridgetop forest on Mount Nok near Majalibit Bay (Mauro 2002, Mauro 2005); a subsequent two-month survey revealed 28 incubation mounds in a relatively small area (R. W. R. J. Dekker in litt. 2003, Mauro 2005). Ten sites at appropriate elevation are known, not all of which have confirmed records of the species (Mauro 2006). However, only three were considered large enough to potentially hold viable populations: Mt Danai (36.2 km2, 600-950 m), Mnier Hills (10.7 km2, 600-870 m) and Mt Sau Lal (8 km2, 600-970 m). In April 2007, an adult male was photographed on Mt Danai, displaying and tending a nest-mound, representing the first photograph of the species in the wild (C. Davies and I. Mauro in litt.). Subsequently, it has been summised that Mt Danai could hold up to 65% of the species's global population (Anon. 2007), but further study is required. The currently known population totals 47 mound-owning males or 84 mature individuals (Mauro 2006) and its global population is estimated at 349 mound-owning males or 977 mature individuals (Mauro 2006). The large number of historical specimens suggests a serious historical decline.


It is a low density inhabitant of mountain forests above 620 m (Mauro 2006), including the extremely rugged karst interior of the island. Its habitat is characterised as structurally distinctive, wind-sheared and possibly locally edaphically controlled stunted cloud-forest (Mauro 2008). Males appear to be sedentary, although females may wander into the lowlands in years of drought (Mauro 2006). There may be some resource partitioning with M. freycinet, which occurs widely in coastal areas and on the slopes up to 400 m (Dekker and Argeloo 1993). Like other brush-turkeys, males build mounds for the incubation of the eggs (Mauro 2005). There is very little information on diet or foraging behaviour (Mauro 2002), although a wandering immature male, observed and photographed in August 2010, appeared to be attracted to seeds in a Wilson's Bird-of-paradise Cicinnurus respublica court (Plantema 2011). 


Waigeo's rugged relief, lack of infrastructure and apparently entirely intact forest suggest that there are no current threats to the species from logging or agriculture (Holmes 1989, Dekker and McGowan 1995, Mauro 2002). A proposed reduction in the size of the existing reserve on Waigeo and the prospect of cobalt or nickel mining in the Mnier Hills and the Mt Sau Lal region has been a concern since the late 1980s, and is apparently still being actively pursued (Dekker and McGowan 1995, Hermanto in litt. 2007, Mauro 2008). Selective logging and subsequent burning is known to be taking place at a rapid pace in the lowlands, rendering montane subpopulations isolated (Mauro 2006). Hunting is speculated to be a problem (Dekker and McGowan 1995), but may be of only negligible effect (Mauro 2006). The south-east corner of the island was ravaged by fire in 1982, perhaps rendering it unsuitable for the species (Dekker and Argeloo 1993). The introduction of predators, such as feral dogs, represents a potential threat, especially since rogue dogs are currently thought to be a problem at least locally (Dekker 1989; Mauro 2002, 2006). Although the species has coexisted with wild pigs for several thousand years, anecdotal observations suggest that they impact the Mt Danai population at least (Davies 2008).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Cagar Alam Waigeo Barat Nature Reserve was established in the late 1980s, covering 1,530 km2, slightly less than half the island (Holmes 1989, Dekker and McGowan 1995).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Convert Waigeo's 'paper parks' into a single integrated, properly demarcated, meaningful protected area with national park status and multiple-usage zonations demarcated following consultation with local communities. Set up an island-wide awareness campaign to prevent future wild fires. Declare the species's core locations as strictly no hunting areas. Conduct additional field work in order to establish with absolute certainty that populations are present at all inferred sites. Establish beyond reasonable doubt whether the species is indeed absent from Batanta. Study nesting site philopatry and the extent of gene flow across locations, preferably using a non-invasive molecular technique. Study the impact of ENSO-induced drought events and invasive species, such as pigs, on the species's reproductive success.


43 cm. Large megapode with wattles. Dull brown plumage, greyer on upperparts and more chestnut on breast, with pinkish naked face. Male has small red comb and three pendulous red wattles. Similar spp. Much larger than Dusky Megapode Megapodius freycinet, with conspicuous tail and different head pattern. Wattled Brush-turkey A. arfakianus of New Guinea has blackish plumage, bluish-white face and single wattle. Voice. Hints Locate an active nest-mound, if possible with the assistance of villagers familiar with interior Waigeo.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Davidson, P., Dutson, G., Harding, M., Mahood, S., Taylor, J.

Dekker, R., Bishop, K., Planque, B., Mauro, I., Hermanto, .., Davies, C., Diamond, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Aepypodius bruijnii. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 13/07/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 13/07/2020.