Family Megapodes (Megapodiidae)

Least Concern

New Guinea Scrubfowl (Megapodius decollatus)


French: Mégapode de Nouvelle-Guinée German: Neuguinea-Großfußhuhn Spanish: Talégalo papúa
Other common names: New Guinea Megapode

Megapodius decollatus


, 1878,

Kairiru Island, off north-central New Guinea


Previously listed as “M. affinis”, but this name now known to refer instead to M. reinwardt#R. Formerly included in M. freycinet; molecular analysis places it very close to M. freycinet (including forsteni) and possibly conspecific#R. Known to hybridize with M. eremita on islands of Karkar and Bagabag#R (off NE New Guinea). Formerly considered polytypic, with recognition of races jobiensis, huonensis and “affinis“. Clinal variation in size, with birds in W slightly smaller than those in E#R. Monotypic.


N New Guinea and offshore islands, from Geelvink Bay (Yapen I) E to Huon Gulf; locally on S slope of Central Range; exact limits of range uncertain in many areas.

Descriptive notes

c. 33–35 cm; male 715 g, female 550–692 g. Sexes basically identical. Rather long crest; underparts vary from ashy grey to brownish olive; legs and feet dark... read more


Male apparently initiates duet with an ascending “kok, nyacal, nailleue” that becomes a... read more


Rainforest, occurring from sea-level up to 2100 m, and locally ascends to 2950 m on Huon Peninsula... read more

Food and feeding

No information available, but presumably omnivorous.


Laying said to be year-round, with records from Feb, Mar/Apr and Oct (CN New Guinea); in S highlands (probably present species) Jan–... read more


No information available. Presumably sedentary.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Mace Lande: Safe. Total population may number 6700–670,000 individuals; thought to be stable. Widespread and common in Irian... read more

Recommended citation

Elliott, A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). New Guinea Scrubfowl (Megapodius decollatus). 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 February 2020).