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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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megapode a general name applied to birds in the family Megapodiidae, which belong to Australasia, New Guinea, and various islands of the S. Pacific. These are remarkable in that they do not hatch their young, but after laying the eggs pile up over them mounds of earth or vegetation which serve as incubators. Some megapodes hang around these ‘nests’ until hatching is complete, but normally the chicks are left to struggle out when they hatch and to fend for themselves, never seeing their parents.

Two groups within the family are formed by the scrub-fowl and the brush turkeys. In the former group Megapodius freycinet, the common scrub-hen, is best known. Of its many subspecies, M. f. nicobariensis, the Nicobar scrub-hen, has been accorded high praise, e.g. by one author in the 1930s, who declared it to be unsurpassed as a game bird, with white, sweet, juicy, fat flesh.