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For the town in Italy, see Maleo, Lombardy.
Stavenn Maleo.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Galliformes
Family: Megapodiidae
Genus: Macrocephalon
S. Müller, 1846
Species: M. maleo
Binomial name
Macrocephalon maleo
S. Müller, 1846

The maleo (Macrocephalon maleo) is a large megapode and the only member of the monotypic genus Macrocephalon. The maleo is endemic to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. It is found in the tropical lowland and hill forests, but nests in the open sandy areas, volcanic soils or beaches that are heated by the sun or geothermal energy for incubation. (There are also megapode species that use fermenting compost to incubate their eggs.


The maleo is approximately 100 cm long (males show 1389–1588 g, while females 1503–1758 g) with blackish plumage, bare yellow facial skin, reddish-brown iris, reddish-orange beak and rosy salmon underparts.[2] The crown is ornamented with a black helmet casque. The greyish blue feet have four long sharp claws, separated by a membranous web. The sexes are almost identical with a slightly smaller and duller female. On the other hand, juveniles have largely brownish and paler heads with short blackish-brown crests and browner upperparts.[2]

Behaviour and ecology[edit]

The maleo's egg is large, about five times as large as that of the domestic chicken's. The female lays and covers each egg in a deep hole in the sand and allows the incubation to take place through solar or volcanic heating. After the eggs hatch, the young birds work their way up through the sand and hide in the forest. The young birds are able to fly and are totally independent. They must find food and defend themselves from predators such as monitor lizard, reticulated python, wild pig and cats.

The maleo is monogamous, and members of a pair stay close to each other all the time. Its diet consists mainly of fruits, seeds, mollusks, ants, termites, beetles and other small invertebrates.

Status and conservation[edit]

Since 1972, this species has been protected by the Indonesian government. Due to ongoing habitat loss, limited range, high chick mortality rates and overhunting in some areas, the maleo is evaluated as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.[1] It is listed on Appendix I of CITES.

In 2009, US-based Wildlife Conservation Society worked with local government to purchase 36 acres (150,000 m2) of Indonesian beach front property where approximately 40 nests are located in an effort to further conservation efforts and protect this bird.[3]

The Alliance for Tompotika Conservation works with communities in Sulawesi to educate locals about the maleo's endangered status and prevent the harvesting of eggs. The eggs are not a staple food source, but are a popular delicacy.[4]


  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2013). "Macrocephalon maleo". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b del Hoyo, J. Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. (1994) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 2: New World Vultures to Guineafowl. Lynx Edicions. ISBN 84-87334-15-6.
  3. ^ "Bizarre bird gets private beach in Indonesia". USA Today. Associated Press. 15 May 2009. Retrieved 4 February 2013. 
  4. ^ "Maleo Conservation" (in English and Indonesian). Alliance for Tompotika Conservation. Retrieved 4 February 2013. 

External links[edit]