Friday, April 15, 2011

Turkey's Gobbling

 Wild Turkeys are actively in their mating season at Springbrook now.  I took these pictures yesterday looking into the bird feeding area. 
This is the first year  males have been present in the park, and they are really putting on a show, gobbling and strutting in front of the windows while the hens are feeding.
I believe they see their reflection and think it is another male, so they try to out-perform the reflection, getting right up close to the window so the hens will have an easy time comparing.
I have only seen two males, and only one gobbling and strutting.  But they can't be putting on displays all the time, and this is what they look like when a bit more relaxed. Notice how much shorter and smaller the "snood" is here.  The "snood" is the fleshy red projection on top of and behind the beak. 

Also notice the short "beard" projecting from the turkey's chest.  the short length suggests this turkey is young, probably a "Jake," just one or two year's old.  Maybe that is why he is at Springbrook, where he does not have to compete with older, more established males in other areas. Older Tom turkeys have beards over one foot long.
In this picture the "snood" is a little bigger, and the beard can be seen better.

The bright colors on the head of the males are what tells the difference from the females.  Other wise they look pretty similar, except that most female turkey's also lack the beard. About one in ten females do have short "beards," which is why hunting regulations for turkeys allow shooting of "bearded" turkeys.  That way very few females are taken, and reproduction is high the next year. 
Here is a female or hen turkey for comparrison.  This one is sitting on a fence rail by the bird feeders.  Turkeys can fly very well, and roost in the top of tall trees at night.

The hens seem to ignore the performance of the males, but I am pretty sure they are watching, and that Springbrook will have baby turkeys by the end of May.

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