Perhaps the most remarkable characteristic of this monogamous bird is the way it nests and cares for its offspring. Unlike most birds, who incubate their own eggs, the maleo lays its eggs in pits in the sand to be incubated by the sun, geothermal energy, or both. Maleos nest communally, which is likely a defensive measure against egg predators. When a young maleo hatches and emerges from the sand after two to three months of incubation, it is independent and able to fly. It quickly heads to the forest on its own to hide from predators and find food.
Maleo eggs are approximately five times the size of a chicken egg, making them desirable among locals. In 2009, the US-based Wildlife Conservation Society purchased a 36-acre area of the Sulawesi beach (containing about 40 nests) in order to raise awareness about the steadily declining species and to protect the birds from human egg harvesters.
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