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Tom Turkeys Gobbling & Strutting

3-30-17 tom turkey IMG_7637In the Northeast, male Wild Turkeys began gobbling and strutting in late February. Their courtship ritual usually starts before females are receptive, and continues into late March and early April, when mating typically takes place. Hearing a tom turkey gobble is as sure a sign of spring as the sight of one strutting.

At this time of year males are bedecked with blue wattles (flap of skin on throat) and snoods (fleshy piece of skin that hangs over beak), and bright red major carbunkles (bulbous, fleshy growths at the bottom of the turkey’s throat). Displaying these adornments while slowly gliding around a female, the male fans his tail, lowers his wings with the primaries dragging on the ground/snow, elevates the feathers on his back and throws his head backward the female. If she is receptive, she lowers herself and crouches on the ground, signaling to the male that he may mount her. (Thanks to Chiho Kaneko for photo op.)

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3 responses

  1. Brenda Sloane

    I have three males who live in my trees at night.  When they alight, they begin to goggle and also drum, from deep inside.  What does that drumming mean?  BBS (Brenda Sloane, Boxford, MA)  BBS (Brenda Sloane)

    March 30, 2017 at 7:06 am

    • Birds of North America Online has this to say:

      ” Nonvocal Sounds

      Strutting males emit a sound at intervals sounding like chump (0.08 seconds in duration, 1,000+ Hz) followed by a humm (pitch below 60 Hz; Hale et al. 1969 ); this is accompanied by rapid vibration of rectrices. Source of sound not fully understood; humm often referred to as “Drumming” ( Williams 1984e ). The strut (see Behavior) with Chump and Drumming usually given on the ground as male displays to hen, sometimes given on large limb of roosting tree. Audible rattling of wing pinions often exists during strut. Wing beats of turkeys flying up through trees is audible, like the highly magnified beats of ruffed grouse.”

      March 30, 2017 at 6:12 pm

  2. Alice Pratt

    “Adornments” is a great word ! 😁 Handsome Tom.

    March 30, 2017 at 1:35 pm

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