The moustached turca is a fairly conspicuous bird, cutting a distinctive figure as it runs between bushes or perches on its stilt-like legs, with the tail held erect, often almost touching the back (3) (4) (5). The body is greyish-brown, becoming more reddish on the wings, rump and tail, with a reddish-brown breast. The whitish underparts and flanks show a variable amount of black or brown barring, and the beak, long legs and large feet are black. The supercilium (‘eyebrow’) and chin are white, and a broad, white, moustache-like streak on the sides of the throat and neck distinguish the moustached turca from other species and give it its common name (2) (3) (4). The juvenile is a more cinnamon or dusky colour, with cinnamon lower underparts and only faint, brown barring on the flanks (2).
Two subspecies of moustached turca are recognised: Pteroptochos megapodius megapodius, and Pteroptochos megapodius atacamae, the ‘northern moustached turca’, which is smaller and paler, with less barring on the underparts. The moustached turca is a very vocal bird, and its loud, resonant song - a descending scale of gurgling “wook” notes - is distinctive. Other calls include single “guerk” notes and a single, sharp whistle (2) (3) (4).
- Length: 22 - 24 cm (2) (3)
- 95 - 135 g (2)