Family Megapodes (Megapodiidae)


Vanuatu Scrubfowl (Megapodius layardi)


French: Mégapode de Layard German: Layard-Großfußhuhn Spanish: Talégalo de Nuevas Hébridas
Other common names: Vanuatu Megapode

Megapodius layardi


, 1879,

Vaté, Vanuatu


Formerly included in M. freycinet; alternatively, linked with M. laperouse; genetic study indicates close relationship with M. pritchardii#R. Monotypic.


C & N Vanuatu, including Banks Is.

Descriptive notes

c. 42–45 cm. All dark brownish or plumbeous black; extensive pinkish-red bare skin on forehead and face; iris brown, bill pale yellow and legs and feet bright yellow.... read more


Especially vocal at dawn and dusk. Generally described as hoarse croaks or clucking notes.... read more


Mostly found on floor of lowland forest or thicket; also occurs at medium altitudes to c. 800 m.... read more

Food and feeding

Said to take insects, grubs, worms, snails and other invertebrates; also fruit, seeds and other plant matter. Scratches in damp leaf litter... read more


Apparently breeds year-round throughout range, especially Jun–Aug. Probably monogamous. Burrow nester, in burrows between decaying... read more


Sedentary. Sometimes flies off to roost on offshore islets. Prefers to run rather than fly away... read more

Status and conservation

VULNERABLE. Mace Lande: Vulnerable. Total population postulated to number maximum of c. 10,000 individuals; thought to be  declining. Apparently still common in suitable... read more

Recommended citation

Elliott, A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Vanuatu Scrubfowl (Megapodius layardi). 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 21 February 2020).