Megapodes are mainly solitary birds that do not incubate their eggs with their body heat as other birds do but bury them. Their eggs are unusual in having a large yolk, making up 50–70% of the egg weight. The birds are best known for building massive nest mounds of decaying vegetation, which the male attends, adding or removing litter to regulate the internal heat while the eggs develop. However, some bury their eggs in other ways.

Megapode chicks do not have an egg tooth; they use their powerful claws to break out of the egg, and then tunnel their way up to the surface of the mound, lying on their backs and scratching at the sand and vegetable matter.

Similar to other superprecocial birds, they hatch fully feathered and active, already able to fly and live independently from their parents. In megapodes superprecociality apparently evolved secondarily from brooding and at least loose parental care as more typical in Galliformes. Eggs previously assigned to Genyornis have been reassigned to giant megapode species. Some dietary and chronological data previously assigned to dromornithids may instead be assigned to the giant megapodes.

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