Family Megapodes (Megapodiidae)

Least Concern

Melanesian Scrubfowl (Megapodius eremita)


French: Mégapode mélanésien German: Bismarck-Großfußhuhn Spanish: Talégalo eremita
Other common names: Melanesian Megapode, Bismarck Scrubfowl

Megapodius eremita


, 1868,

#R Ninigo Islands, north of New Guinea


Formerly included in M. freycinet; genetic data suggest closest to M. reinwardt#R. Known to hybridize with M. decollatus on islands of Karkar and Bagabag#R (off NE New Guinea); comparison of specimens taken on Karkar I in 1914 and 1969 indicates that this population may have moved closer to present species than to M. decollatus. Race brenchleyi traditionally accepted for birds of Solomon Is (including Bougainville and Buka), but validity doubtful; proposed races hueskeri (New Hanover) and rubrifrons (Admiralty Is) likewise no longer accepted. Shows striking but apparently random variation in both coloration and size. Monotypic.


Ninigo Group E through Admiralty Is, New Britain, New Ireland and rest of Bismarck Archipelago to Solomon Is.

Descriptive notes

c. 34–39 cm; male 500–810 g, female 395–925 g. Sexes basically alike, although female suspected to have paler legs and feet than male, and is slightly... read more


Territorial call (by male alone) a series of loud, slightly nasal, braying or grunting calls... read more


Rainforest in New Britain, occurring from sea-level up to at least 1575 m, but primarily in... read more

Food and feeding

Fruits and seeds; also centipedes, snails, earthworms, millipedes, beetles and their larve, crickets, grasshoppers and other invertebrates... read more


Laying Apr–Dec in W New Britain, with peak in Jun–Aug; apparently year-round on Savo I (EC Solomon Is). Communal burrow nester... read more


In N New Britain, outwith breeding season (during rains) birds disperse extensively throughout... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Mace Lande: Safe. Total population may number 10,000–1,000,000 individuals; perhaps on decline. Only recently recorded on Tench... read more

Recommended citation

Elliott, A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Melanesian Scrubfowl (Megapodius eremita). 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 16 December 2019).