Protecting your Vegetable Garden From Australian Bush Turkeys

Protecting Your Vegetable Garden from Australian Bush Turkeys

Australia is home to a wide array of unique and sometimes challenging wildlife, and one such character is the Australian bush turkey. Known for their curious and often disruptive behaviour, bush turkeys can become a real nuisance in your vegetable garden. In this blog, we'll explore how to deal with Australian bush turkeys and protect your precious veggies from their foraging tendencies.

Understanding the Australian Bush Turkey

The Australian bush turkey, also known as the Australian brush turkey, scrub turkey, or bush chook, is a large and distinctive bird that inhabits forests, woodlands, and urban areas along Australia's eastern coast. While they might be fascinating to observe in the wild, they can quickly become a gardener's adversary due to their persistent digging and scavenging for food.

The Bush Turkey's Impact on Your Vegetable Garden

Australian bush turkeys are primarily herbivores, but their foraging behaviour can be highly destructive to your vegetable garden. Here's how they can impact your garden:

Digging: Bush turkeys are known for their extensive excavating habits. They dig large holes in search of insects, grubs, and plant roots, which can uproot your vegetables and cause substantial damage.

Nesting: During breeding season, bush turkeys build enormous mound nests, sometimes right in the middle of your garden. These nests can smother your plants and disrupt your garden layout.

Feeding: Bush turkeys can devour your vegetables, pecking at leaves and roots. This can severely affect your harvest and reduce the yield of your crops.

How to Deal with Australian Bush Turkeys in Your Vegetable Garden

While it may be challenging to completely deter these birds from your garden, you can employ a combination of strategies to manage their impact and protect your vegetables. Here's how to deal with Australian bush turkeys:

Create Physical Barriers

Using physical barriers is an effective way to keep bush turkeys out of your vegetable garden. Consider these options:

Fencing: Install a sturdy fence around your garden. Use chicken wire or mesh with small openings to prevent the turkeys from squeezing through. Ensure the fence extends underground to deter them from digging underneath.

Netting: Cover your vegetable beds with bird netting to prevent bush turkeys from reaching your crops. Make sure the netting is secured and taut to discourage them from pecking through.

Garden Cloches: Cloches, or protective coverings, can safeguard individual plants or rows. Use them for delicate or newly planted vegetables.

Use Natural Deterrents

You can employ natural methods to deter bush turkeys from your garden:

Decoys: Place decoy predators like plastic owls, snakes, or even a lifelike cutout of a stalking cat near your garden. I’ve had someone suggest teddy bears. The presence of these perceived threats may deter the turkeys.

Shiny Objects: Hang shiny, reflective objects like aluminium foil strips, CDs, or pie tins around your garden. The glint and movement can startle and discourage the turkeys.

Remove Attractants

Bush turkeys are often drawn to your garden because of the easy access to food and shelter. Take these steps to make your garden less appealing:

Clean Up Debris: Remove fallen leaves, compost piles, and debris from your garden. These materials can attract insects and grubs, which, in turn, attract bush turkeys.

Secure Compost Bins: Ensure your compost bins are securely closed and not easily accessible to the turkeys. They are attracted to compost for the potential food source.

Reduce Food Sources: Harvest your vegetables promptly and remove fallen fruits or vegetables from the ground. Don't leave food scraps in your garden.

Modify Their Habitat

Bush turkeys prefer specific types of environments. You can make your garden less inviting by:

Deter Nesting: Discourage nesting by raking over or dismantling any mounds they build in your garden. This can disrupt their nesting behaviour.

Plant Deterrents: Consider planting vegetation that bush turkeys dislike. For example, plants with spiky leaves or dense foliage can make the garden less appealing to them.


You can use commercially available repellents to deter bush turkeys. These products often use a mix of natural ingredients that emit unpleasant odours or tastes to keep the birds away. Whilst we have not had any success with deterrents it’s worth trying when your options are running out.

Scare Tactics

Using scare tactics can startle and discourage bush turkeys from your garden:

Motion-Activated Sprinklers: Install motion-activated sprinklers that turn on when the birds approach. The sudden burst of water can be a significant deterrent.

Noise Deterrents: Loud noises, such as clapping, shouting, or using noise-making devices, can startle the birds and make them wary of your garden.

Be Persistent

Dealing with bush turkeys may require persistence. These birds can be tenacious, so you may need to combine multiple strategies and consistently apply them to protect your garden. It's essential to stay vigilant and adapt your approach as needed.

Legal Considerations

It's important to note that Australian bush turkeys are a protected species in some regions, so check your local regulations before taking any action against them. While it's usually legal to deter them from your garden, harming or killing them may be prohibited.

Dealing with Australian bush turkeys in your vegetable garden can be challenging, but with a combination of physical barriers, natural deterrents, habitat modifications, and persistence, you can protect your garden from their foraging tendencies. By creating an unwelcoming environment and consistently implementing these strategies, you can enjoy a bountiful vegetable garden without the constant interference of these curious birds.

I'd love to know if you've had success with managing Bush Turkeys in your vegetable garden using any of these techniques or any others you'd like to share. Leave a comment below!

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We have brown swamp hens in Darwin. They are such a pest. They usually work in pairs and cackle and talk to each other all the time, so you know their around. But what a mess they make digging up the plants. I usually give them a send off with the hose or my dog will give them a quick send off. You know when they are on the roof as they sound like a tank slipping and sliding across it. Laying mesh over the ground after I have planted out seems to be the best deterrent.


Hosing the bush turkey works but they fly up on the roof making it difficult for me to stay dry lol lol. Eventually the bush turkey gets bored and flies to a neighbours roof.


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