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It is a spectacular large bird with black feathers and a red head. Its total length is about 60–75 cm and a wingspan of about 85 cm. t has a prominent, fan-like tail flattened sideways, and its plumage is mainly blackish, but with a bare red head, and a yellow wattle. The male's wattle becomes much larger during breeding season, often swinging from side to side as they run. The males' heads and wattles also become much brighter during the breeding and nesting season.
The Australian Brushturkey inhabits rainforests and wet sclerophyll forests, but can also be found in drier scrubs. In the northern part of its range, the Australian Brushturkey is most common at higher altitudes, but individuals move to the lowland areas in winter months. In the south, it is common in both mountain and lowland regions.