I was walking through the bush earlier when I heard this mysterious noise, it sounded like a... like a scratching. I was afraid it might be... a drop bear! Will you help investigate it with me?
Oh hey look at that bird!
(Who's. That. Bird?!)
What tools do you think I could use to find out?
Oh, I know!
According to my trusty bird identification book, this bird's an Australian brush turkey. I can tell he's a male because of his bright yellow wattle.
Ohhhhh! So that's where the mysterious noise was coming from! This brush turkey is using his big strong legs and huge feet to rake these leaves into this... um... mound? Well we've got to get a closer look at this...
Hey, are you seeing what I'm seeing?
How strange - I can see steam coming off this thing. It... it feels warm too. I better record my observations before I forget!
Hey look that's a female... she's approaching the mound, it kind of looks like she's inspecting it! I wonder where the male went?
Oh look there he is behind the mound!
Oh! That's interesting...
Hmm all of these observations are making me curious...
Why is this male turkey building a mound?
Was he trying to attract that female?
Is this mound actually a nest that he's preparing for her? If so why would a nest need to be so... warm?
I sense an inference coming along...
I've seen chickens sit on their eggs to keep them warm to incubate them. I wonder if brush turkeys build these mounds to incubate their eggs?
Let me google it.
*gasp* No internet connection!
(voiceover) Okay Zoomer, calm down. Who needs the internet anyway when you've got the power of...
If my inference is true and these brush turkey mounds are incubators for their eggs, then that should mean the temperature inside the mound should stay stable no matter what the temperature outside is doing.
I predict that the temperature inside the brush turkey mound won't change throughout the day, but the temperature outside will.
Okay time to test out our predictions about temperature. But how exactly do I do that?
In science class I learned that we use thermometers to measure temperature, so I'm going to use a glass thermometer to measure the air temperature outside of the mound and a soil thermometer to measure the temperature inside the mound.
For a fair test, I'm going to take my measurements together and at these exact times - 7 a.m, midday, and 5 p.m.
I'll record my data on a table in my phone.
Oh no, it looks like the weather's going to change a bit this week! I better repeat my test for the next two weeks just to check for the reliability of my results.
(Two weeks later.)
Okay it's number crunching time!
So I've calculated averages of my data, and plotted them on a line graph so I can see the changes in temperature over time.
I can see that the temperature of the air outside the mound increases from morning to midday and then decreases again towards the evening, but despite this the temperature of the mound doesn't really change all that much throughout the day.
So based on my experimental evidence my prediction was correct! These mounds do maintain a stable temperature just like an incubator.
So these mounds could very well be special nests that the brush turkeys make to incubate their eggs. This would ensure the perfect conditions for the growth and development of their chicks no matter what the temperature outside is.
The more chicks that successfully hatch because of this then the more brush turkeys there'll be in general... and all without the need for the adult turkeys to sit on their eggs all day!
Boy, am I glad we got to the bottom of that one!
But now I'm wondering...
How do brush turkeys sense temperature in order to check whether the mounds are the right temperature?
Here we go again!
end of transcript