By Vinnie Batten
The humble Bushturkey. He pecks, he rakes, he builds. He makes the largest and moistest mound of leaf litter in the suburb, maintained at exactly 33°C, and the ladies (identified by their much smaller and more pale–yellow wattle around their neck) simply cannot resist laying their eggs to reward his efforts.
Tell anyone living in Brisbane that the Bushturkey is a threatened & protected species and they’ll scoff at you. “It’s a pest! Have you had a backyard before, you townie? They’re doing fine!” Admittedly, our red, black and yellow Aussie battler friend has adapted extremely well to urbanisation in the grand scheme of things. Despite our campuses being inner-city, they still manage to survive and thrive, with a healthy population often strutting their stuff in areas seemingly unhabitable due to their concrete jungle nature.
This brings us to the struggle currently faced by the Bushturkey that has set up shop outside K Block at Kelvin Grove. It has been coined as the battle between QUT’s Facilities Management and Native Wildlife, and it is perhaps the highlight of my life at the moment. Every single morning, the Bushturkey rakes up all of the leaves and soil from the garden bed, and places it as a large pile on top of the footpath. Every single afternoon, Facilities Management leafblows the whole pile back into the garden bed. Rinse and repeat. Poetry in motion. Humankind on the backfoot, responding to the whims of nature.
Despite the humour in the situation, it has brought me great concern. Where it rakes its pile is right next to the main road outside QUT, and when it slowly crosses the road with a beak and fist full of leaves, I’ve seen it nearly hit by a car multiple times. This struck me as curious. Why was it taking leaves across the road? What’s worth the risk? It took following it one day to solve the mystery. It turns out, on the other side of the road, behind some hedges, right outside C Block, it has built a massive mound; an absolute masterpiece that must have taken months to craft. The daily one outside K Block is merely a decoy, designed to make local competition think he isn’t a threat to their mating success. Well, they couldn’t be more wrong.
Although this is very clever, I still have fear for it crossing the road so slowly. The potentially scientifically informed pitch I have made to Facilities Management multiple times is that they collect all the leaf litter in this garden bed, and dump it on top of the real mound, to save him the trouble of transporting it over from the decoy. However, until my voice is properly heard in the slow-moving machine that is the university, the daily leafblower struggle will continue. Maybe, one day, this QUT Bushturkey will be able to build its paradise, the ultimate non-vandalised mound, in peace.