Family Megapodes (Megapodiidae)

Least Concern

Dusky Scrubfowl (Megapodius freycinet)


French: Mégapode de Freycinet German: Molukken-Großfußhuhn Spanish: Talégalo de Freycinet
Other common names: Dusky Megapode, Forsten's Megapode, Seram Scrubfowl (forsteni)

Megapodius freycinet


, 1823,

Waigeo, West Papuan Islands


Formerly lumped with M. nicobariensis, M. cumingii, M. bernsteinii, M. layardi, M. decollatus, M. geelvinkianus, M. eremita and M. reinwardt. Race forsteni (along with closely related buruensis#R#R) previously placed in M. reinwardt, and proposed by some authors for full species status#R; herein transferred to present species on basis of marked differences from M. reinwardt, including short broad crest, dark (not yellow) bare face and legs, darker plumage, shorter tail and longer legs and feet#R, and on similarity to geographically adjacent freycinet, including morphometrics, plumage and bare-part colours, and duetting behaviour#R; this conclusion borne out by molecular studies#R. Race quoyii may merit treatment as a separate species#R; further study required. M. decollatus very closely related to forsteni and freycinet#R and may also belong in this species. Five subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. f. quoyii G. R. Gray, 1862 – N Moluccas (Morotai, Rau, Halmahera, Ternate, Tidore, Mare, Kayoa, Kasiruta, Bacan, Bisa, Obi).
  • M. f. freycinet Gaimard, 1823 – Dusky Scrubfowl – W Papuan Is (Gebe, Waigeo, Misool).
  • M. f. oustaleti Roselaar, 1994 – W Papuan Is (Batanta, Salawati).
  • M. f. buruensis Stresemann, 1914 – S Moluccas (Buru).
  • M. f. forsteni G. R. Gray, 1847 – Forsten’s Scrubfowl – S Moluccas (Seram, Ambon, Haruku, Gorong).
  • Descriptive notes

    c. 34–41 cm; male 600–700 g, female 525–670 g, unsexed 620–752 g (forsteni). Differs from other Megapodius in the Oriental Region in... read more


    Noisy, especially at night (like other Megapodius). Characteristic vocalization rather... read more


    Occurs in mangroves and along margins of swampy woodland and sago swamps; also in wet evergreen... read more

    Food and feeding

    Walks along forest floor, scratching in litter for invertebrates (snails and beetles reported as stomach contents), with constant clucking... read more


    Eggs Feb–Mar on Buru and May on Seram; birds calling and in breeding condition Oct–Dec in W Papuan Is; small chicks in Jan on... read more


    Few data available. Pre­sumably sedentary.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Total population may number 10,000–100,000 individuals; alternative estimate of fewer than 5000 birds; thought to be stable or... read more

    Recommended citation

    Elliott, A., Kirwan, G.M. & Christie, D.A. (2020). Dusky Scrubfowl (Megapodius freycinet). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 27 January 2020).