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Wattles, Caruncles & Snoods

Wild tom turkeys have a number of ways of impressing hens in addition to displays involving their feathers. Among them are wattles, caruncles and snoods — fleshy protuberances that adorn their throats and beaks.

A large wattle, or dewlap, is a flap of skin on the throat of a male turkey. The bulbous, fleshy growths at the bottom of the turkey’s throat are major caruncles. Large wattles and caruncles have been shown to correlate with high testosterone levels, good nutrition and the ability to evade predators, which makes the genes of a tom turkey with them very desirable to a female.

The snood, another fleshy outgrowth which hangs down over the male’s beak, is normally pale and not very long. When he starts strutting and courting a hen, the tom’s snood (and caruncles) becomes engorged with blood, making it redder and longer. This impresses both male and female turkeys –the males avoid or defer to him and the females’ interest in him is heightened. A longer snood has also been correlated with a lack of internal parasites, making toms with large snoods even more irresistible to hens.

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7 responses

  1. Alice

    That’s one very impressive and irresistible Tom, 🦃 Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day with your family, Mary!

    November 27, 2019 at 9:17 am

    • Thank you so much, Alice. Happy Thanksgiving and many thanks for your wonderful comments!

      November 27, 2019 at 11:59 am

  2. kathiefive

    There’s nothing like a long, red snood to make a gal swoon!! Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

    November 27, 2019 at 11:13 am

  3. Diane Alexander

    I forgot that their heads were so blue. What a beauty; almost too good to eat. 🙂 I hope you take some picts tomorrow of all the food and folks. XOXOXOXO to you and all. Love, Di

    November 27, 2019 at 7:06 pm

  4. Fascinating anatomy! A blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours, Mary.

    November 27, 2019 at 7:53 pm

  5. Wow! Super interesting Information! Thanks! We have many, many small flocks/rafters around here, they all seem to know their place and mind their own business, from within! I’ve never seen them actually fight, such display dominance! And our turkeys do not attack people, they tolerate a safe distance and then just move on faster and faster, and if really agitated take flight! I like them! Have a Wonderful Thanksgiving! 🙂 ❤

    November 27, 2019 at 11:11 pm

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