An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Tom Turkeys Strutting Their Stuff

3-19-18 wild turkey IMG_7081Congratulations to Penny Jessop, who submitted the first correct Mystery Photo answer!

In the Northeast, male Wild Turkeys begin 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.

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 caruncles (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 (these primary wing feathers are responsible for the parallel lines either side of the trail of tracks), 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.

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3 responses

  1. Alice Pratt

    The Toms are such a handsome bird with their array of patterned and colorful feathers. I like their beard on their chest, too, and I’ve read there are Hens with beards as well.

    March 16, 2018 at 7:57 am

  2. Sue Makowiecki

    I love the terminology, carbunkles, snoods and wattles!

    March 16, 2018 at 8:02 am

    • I have been corrected! It’s “caruncles” not carbunkles — a totally different thing!

      March 16, 2018 at 11:50 am

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