Nicobar, Philippine, Mariana, Moluccan Islands, Sulawesi, Kalimantan, Java, New Guinea, Polynesia (to Niuafu in the east), Australia - only here, and nowhere else, only birds in the local forests and bushes do things that you involuntarily say , not yet presented convincing evidence. Instincts, undoubtedly, are guiding those birds, but the actions to which they urge chickens invade the sphere of actions thought out, it seems, to the smallest detail.
450 years ago, the two surviving ships of Magellan circled through the same route to the coveted “Islands of Spices”. Striving in those places and Dominican monk Navaretta. Tales of overseas wonders, many then told. It was even fashionable. But what Navaret told, went beyond the limits of custom embellishments and fantasies. He allegedly saw wild chickens on the islands of the South Sea. Those hens did not incubate eggs, but threw into every rot (eggs are large: more than the hen itself). From rotting it turned out to be warm, it gave birth to chickens, as in that “oven” invented by the Egyptians, which the Romans called the incubator.
Two centuries a second hand flashed on the dial of history, Europeans settled in Australia. In the dry plains in the south of the continent, in the bushes among the eucalyptus forests in its east, here and there they came across large heaps of foliage sprinkled with earth. Graves, perhaps, mounds? - decided by habit, brought from their homeland. There were hillocks and smaller ones. This determined a different origin: they were built by aboriginal women, entertaining dark-skinned children. The Aborigines laughed merrily, marveling at the white-skinned naive stupidity: “This“ woman ”is a Leipoa with a tail and feathers!” What they said next was already heard from that monk.
In 1840, John Gilbert unearthed a strange heap: almost every had eggs. Three times more chickens, although the bird that hid them in a home-made greenhouse, as it turned out, was a growth with a chicken. They called it a megapod, a big one. The common big dog lives in all countries where other weed chickens live. Depending on the terrain and weather, the types of nests are different and unite almost all methods known in weedy chickens. In the north of Australia, in the Cape York rainforests, the nest is a large-sized - impressive greenhouse, five-meter high mounds. The circumference of the hill is 50 meters, but this is a record, usually they are smaller.
Photo of weed chickens (Bolshenogov)
Photo: Lip Kee
The rooster and the hen have been working for more than one year, sometimes in company with other couples. Roughly kicking earth, sand and some fallen leaves on light glades. Here the sun warms up the incubator well. In the thick of the forest there are more leaves and any organic humus goes into the business: in the shade warm eggs will warm the decaying plants. Every year the garbage heap grows more and more wide and high. The rotten material is thrown out of it, a new one is added. When the job is done, the greenhouse is treated properly, the rooster and the chicken dig deep in it, up to a meter of hole. Bred eggs are buried vertically in them, with a blunt end up, and no longer return to them. Two months later, the chicks themselves crawl out of the ground and scatter through the bushes.
In New Guinea and on other islands, the nests, the greenhouses of ordinary large-sized ones, are simpler: pits in the ground covered with rotting leaves. Where there are volcanoes, birds do not even bother themselves with this. Bury eggs in warm ashes. If there are rocks well-warmed by the sun somewhere in the forest plains, they will not miss such an opportunity: they will stick an egg into the gap between the warm stone blocks.
Maleo, Celebes weedy chickens that live in the depths of the island, skillfully find places where volcanic ash and lava have warmed the soil, entrust the eggs buried here with its heat.
When the path to the sea is not very distant, 10-30 kilometers, a little from the jungle to sandy beaches. Travel on foot, cocks and hens. Digging holes in the sand. Lay the egg and fill the pit. Hundreds of maleo gather on some of these beaches. Some come, others leave to return in a week or two. Two to four months this reproductive movement continues back and forth, between the forest and the sea coast, until all the chickens bury six to eight eggs in the sand.
Maleo, the weeds chickens of Wallace (the Moluccas), the common and two other megapods from the islands of Niuafu and the Mariana, form a tribe, an association of close genera, small weed chickens. In the tribe of large weeds (they are about the height of a turkey), there are seven more species. In New Guinea, there are five types of telegalls, in Eastern Australia, shrubby chicken or turkey, in South Australia, leypoa, or an oculus weedy chicken.
Large weed chickens, not trusting the thermal volatility of volcanic ash and sand, are building incubators of a design already known to us. Roosters for months on duty at the garbage heaps. They even sleep right there on the bushes and trees. From morning to evening, monitor the temperature regime in the greenhouse. If it is too small, sprinkle more earth on top, and inside - rotting leaves. When it is large, the excess insulating layer is removed or deep holes are dug from the side.
How do birds measure rotting mass?
Some natural thermometers they have, What and where, it is not quite clear. Telegalls - previous observations convinced of this - having unearthed the upper layer, they are pressed against the heap with their wings, with their non-feathered underside. But try to warm and “taste” - open beak. Rooster shrub and oculus weed chickens do the same.
Here and there he rakes his incubator and thrusts his head deep into holes in it, the rooster takes sand from the depths of the heap into its beak. Probably the organs of “temperature feeling” in a large one on the beak, possibly in the tongue or palate.
Until the rooster makes sure that the temperature inside the heap is exactly what is required, it does not allow the hen to close. She carries eggs anywhere, but not in an incubator.
But here in the incubator the necessary thermal regime was established: not hot, not cold, about 33 degrees. Rooster eye-hen rakes from above, scattering around, about two cubic meters of land. Two hours of work without resting. Comes chicken. He tries with his beak where the most suitable place is. Digging a hole there. Take an egg and leave. The rooster buries it and again pours the dumped earth on top of the pile.
Females of shrubby chickens place their eggs in incubators without the help of roosters. They don’t scatter a lot of land on top, dig a niche in a pile. Putting eggs in them, bury. Retired to come another few days and more than once. Whether the weather will be good or bad, will the rooster be able to maintain the desired temperature in brood niches of the nest — depending on this, the eggs of the shrub chickens develop sometimes faster or slower from 50 to 85 days.
Nature has set an especially difficult task for the leypoa, the eye-eyed rooster. Leipoa live in arid places among the bushes of the South Australian scrub. There are few rotting plants here, everything is dried up by the sun and winds. And what's left is eating termites. In summer, the heat is under forty and more degrees, in winter it is very cool.
At the beginning of the Australian autumn, in April, the Leipoos chickens quarrel with their neighbors over places suitable for building greenhouses. It is not the forage of land that attracts them, but the abundance of rotten leaves and all kinds of garbage. The strongest get the most extensive, littered pieces of land - up to 50 hectares of bushes, frail eucalyptus trees, all herbs, here and there sprouted from dry ground. A rooster digs a large hole in its plot, up to a meter deep, up to two and a half in diameter. All the leaves and branches, which only he finds, rake this hole at night.
In winter, it rains in his homeland. The leaves in the pit, already filled above the edges, swell. While the garbage he collected is still raw, the rooster falls asleep in the pit with sand and earth. A mound grows above it. The leaves are rotting. At first, this process is going on rapidly. The temperature in the incubator is too high, dangerous for eggs. The rooster is waiting for the fall to 33 degrees Celsius.
Four months are spent on the device of the incubator and the preparation of the desired thermal conditions. Only at the end of August and in September the rooster allows the hen to approach his creation, after having removed two cubic meters of earth from the “roof”. The rooster covers the egg it had laid with sand, setting it vertically, with a blunt end up, so that the chick could more easily get out. The chicken will come again. Four days, a week or two. Terms are uncertain. Much depends on the weather. Suddenly it will become cold or it will rain, the rooster will not let her. Afraid to open a greenhouse in bad weather: eggs can die from the cold.
He has been on duty at the incubator for ten months. A lot of care and business. Even before sunrise, in the gray light of dawn, the cock crows around the heap. Spring came. The sun warms warmer, and there is still a lot of moisture in the heap - rotting is going on rapidly. The rooster works for hours to pierce the vents, remove excess heat from the incubator. In the evening you need to fill these holes. The nights are still cold. Eat too. Run off, rummage here and there, somehow bite. Far from leaving. And in order not to eat, you also need to follow! Restless life at the rooster. No bird, no animal, perhaps, the animal in the world donates so much nervous and physical strength to work and care.
In the summer heat at midday 40-45 degrees. Dry. Sultry. The rooster hurries to pour more land on top of the heap by noon. It will retain moisture in the nest and will not allow overheating. Thermal insulation. But this is only part of the day job. Even before this, early at dawn, he dug a bunch of rooster. Scattered on top of the sand with a thin layer on the ground. Airing in the morning cool breeze. By noon this sand was poured in from above: chilled, it would cool the incubator in the hottest hours.
In the autumn, the rooster is fumbling around the nest again. The sun will slightly warm, it spills sand from the heap. But for a different purpose. Not cooling, but warming up is now required. Dobry autumn sun. But still heats a thin layer of sand left over the eggs, and one that is scattered on the ground around. By night, he will be assembled by a rooster, laid down like a hot water bottle over the eggs.
And one at a time they get out of the heap of chickens. For this, all the trouble and work. But the father does not notice the children. It does not help to quickly get out of the cradle, which, if it rains, can become their grave. Themselves make their way through the thickness of the earth and all there rot. Like moles, they spread their heaps of foliage, branches, humus and sand, making their way up to the light.
On the wings of the chicks, flight feathers are already fit for flight. Each is covered with a cover of gelatinous mucus, so as not to fray. While digging the ground, all the covers ripped off.
Got out - and rather in the bushes. The nestling will hide there and lie, breathing hard. Very tired. Dry feathers and down. By the evening, having a rest, will fly up on a bough. It will spend the night on it. One, without father, without mother, without brothers and sisters. He, one might say, does not know them. Without a family lives from birth to death. A year later, the almighty instinct will wake up in it - to rake garbage in a pile.
And the cock, his father? He soon leaves, leaving his building to the mercy of the elements, on which he worked for almost a year. But his vacation is not long - two months. And then again the working days.
This particular type of "incubating" is certainly not an ancient sign. It later developed in birds of the same evolutionary branch to which other chicken ones belong. It’s worth looking at one such “laborer”, who leaves and crawls the ground here and there for months from dawn to late evening, digs holes, and even frantically chases every creature that is at least a little like a rooster, it will immediately become clear that this whole thing is not not "progress." The ancient way is more convenient: much nicer, nicer and safer to sit on the eggs for a couple of weeks.
Who are weed chickens?
Weedy chickens, or Bolshenogi, is a separate species that, although it belongs to the order of chickens, has little in common with traditional laying hens. Gallinaceous birds - a resident of Australia and the Pacific Islands. They have a very attractive appearance, so lovers of exotics often breed them in their nurseries.
The birds have an ellipsoid or oval body, muscular and not very large, depending on the species. It can weigh from 700 grams to 2.5 kg, again, it depends on the variety. Weed hens have dense plumage, dark color, naked and curved red neck, with a beautiful yellow “necklace” - goiter.
The birds have a powerful and wide black or dark gray beak, expressive eyes of gray tint, and the surface of the head is only slightly covered with sparse stubble - probably nature made sure that they do not overheat. The plumage of birds is black, in places there are dark-gray feathers, dense and dense. The main "highlight" - a lush tail that looks like a fan.
Matriarchy in the wild
The overwhelming majority of species of living creatures on our planet are distinguished by the fact that female individuals bear responsibility for the offspring. Yes, and people are accustomed to the fact that taking care of children is typically a maternal duty.
We live partly in a patriarchal society, where the role of the strong, dominant is attributed to the male representatives. But, the large female females do not think so. They have their own views on motherhood and family lifestyle.
These are the most careless mothers on the whole planet, because Weed hens already at the stage of embryonic development leave babies in the care of caring "daddies", while they themselves live in their own pleasure.
Consider the behavior of weed chickens. For a typical hen, not only laying and hatching is peculiar, but also care for the young.
- The female Bolshenoga destroys this stereotype, because all her maternal task is to boil down to one thing - she only needs to lay eggs, and the male should take care of everything else.
- The male begins to prepare for the appearance of his future "heirs" long before his lady deigns to demolish the hatching egg. The father of the family rakes the fallen leaves into large piles, forming the future incubator cradle for their babies.
After the decay processes begin in the improvised incubator, the female takes her role - she lays eggs in this pile, at a certain distance, and having coped with her only task, is removed in her bird affairs, leaving the future father to be the boss.
The male, in turn, does not move away from the incubator, he carefully covers the testicles with fallen leaves. If the temperature decreases, the feathery dad increases the foliage layer, but if it gets hotter, on the contrary, he rakes the pile a little.
This is how mother nature shows us that absolutely any family structure has the right to exist, if everyone is satisfied and no one suffers!
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Who are the weed chickens
A distinctive feature of weed chicken is an unusual method of reproduction - it does not incubate eggs. After abandoning the incubation, the representatives of the species got involved in the continuation of the species by laying in the incubators, which they construct independently.
Briefly describe the representatives of this species as follows:
- individuals rather stocky,
- have a soft color,
- they have strong and high paws,
- some parts of the head do not have plumage,
- have a long tail
- in appearance they look like turkeys,
- weight can range from 500 g to 2 kg.
The task of the females of this species comes down solely to the clutch, the other duties are assumed by the male. The whole process includes the following steps:
- Even before embarking on a hatching, the male must prepare an incubator. For this, he gathers fallen leaves in a pile and forms a cradle for future babies.
- After the foliage starts to rot, the female should fulfill its role - she lays her eggs.
- After that, the female leaves the incubator, and the male remains to take care of the future offspring: controls that the eggs are always warm, sprinkles the leaves or makes her layer thinner during warming.
After the chicks are born, their mother does not pay attention to them at all. Taking care of the offspring is the task of the rooster. Having just hatched from an egg, the chickens do not immediately get out, and after 10-12 hours they begin to actively climb out to find their food. On the first day of life, the little ones are already moving independently, gathering food for themselves, and then come back to their nest, where the rooster is waiting for them. He helps his children to bury themselves in a pile for the night, and he is constantly near her, protecting the chicks until they become completely independent. At this time, the mother devotes herself to entertainment, rests and does not worry about her offspring, because it is under the protection of the male.