Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Turkey Dance

I spent some time with the turkeys last weekend as I worked on the roof of the turkey coop and the run of the chicken coop. I normally only see them for a few minutes in the morning, so it was fun to watch their antics. The Turkeys will be 6 months old on October 24th and the toms have been putting on a show. The Blue Slate tom has recently decided that he's the boss and has been trying to dominate the Royal Palm tom, who is much bigger.

It's all rather dignified compared to chicken fights which are usually accompanied by squawking, flapping and dust storms.

There was one mild kurfuffle in the last video, but even that seemed more like the Royal Palm just tripped on his big feet.

For months I thought that I had 3 toms and 1 hen, but I have since revised that to 2 toms and 2 hens. The Blue Slate hen fooled me for awhile because her snood and dewlap where more developed than the other female.

I'm throwing around some new vocabulary words I learn at Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine. I finally know what a snood is. Its that thing I've been calling a bealy bobber. The Blue Slate tom's snood is engorged with blood in these videos and hangs down over his beak.

This is from a Texas P&W article titled "Know Your Turkey Parts"
I have been remiss until now.
  1. Spurs

    Both sexes have spurs, although on females, the keratinized appendages are no more than small buttons protruding from the back of the leg a few inches above the foot. On males, spurs serve as a way to fend off other males when they spar for dominance when gathering a harem of hens. Spurs grow at the rate of about 1/4 to 1/2 inch a year and usually top off at about an inch and a half at 4 years of age.

  2. Fan

    A turkey’s fan is a prominent feature you’ll see when a tom struts. Made up of 18 tail feathers 12 to 15 inches long, toms display the fans to attract females during the breeding season. In juvenile males (also known as jakes), the middle tail feathers are longer than the rest of the tail feathers, but adult males have tail feathers uniform in length.

    The tail feathers that make up the fan also aid in identifying the subspecies of turkey. On eastern wild turkeys, brown tips the tail feathers while the tips of Rio Grande turkeys’ tails are buff-colored.

  3. Beard

    Hanging down anywhere from an inch to more than 10 inches from a tom’s chest, the beard is actually a modified feather, even though it appears to be part of the turkey’s skin. The beard is coarse like a horse tail and grows three to five inches a year. A three-year-old bird would possibly have a nine-inch beard, and beards over 11 inches are rare.

  4. Snood

    The snood is a fleshy appendage that attaches just above the beak. When the tom relaxes, the snood is short — maybe half an inch long. When the tom struts, the snood engorges with blood and extends to hang down over the beak. According to the National Wild Turkey Federation, the snood has no known function.

  5. Caruncles

    On both the sexes, the caruncles are fleshy, bulbous bumps that grow over the head and neck. Even though they are less pronounced on females, the caruncles on a male turkey grow large and are especially pronounced on the lower portion of the neck. Usually pale in color, the caruncles engorge with blood and turn to bright red when the turkey struts or becomes aggressive.

  6. Dewlap

    Connecting the neck to the head just under the beak, the dewlap is present on both males and females but is more prominent on males. Like the caruncles and snood, the dewlap turns bright red when the tom gets excited.

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