What a delightful surprise to see this young turkey in our hood. I imagine they are ubiquitous, but it’s only the second time that I know of that they have been seen perusing Plum Street. My husband thinks she slept in our garden the previous night.
Hungry, fearful, and on the run, she didn’t stay very long.
A face only a Mother could love ~
Male turkey’s faces are brilliantly colored red, white, and blue and change color depending on what mood. A solid white head indicates the most excited.
There were three males courting in this group, with one being the dominant Tom. To attract the females, the males were spreading their tail feathers (called strutting) and spitting. Group courtship like this usually takes place after the winter months in March and April, when they are still flocked together.
Tom and Hen Eastern Wild Turkey
Anatomy of a Turkey Head
3) Wattle (dewlap)
4) Major caruncle
Notice the small light tan colored holes to the right of the eye in both the above photo and the top photo. That is the Tom’s ears with which he can hear quite well.
The photo below is not tack sharp so I almost didn’t post however, it demonstrates that this turkey is comparatively more excited as his face is more white and blue than the turkey in the first photo. And you can see the ear quite clearly in this photo, too.
Domestic turkey photo courtesy wiki.
A baby turkey is called a poult.
Where was the Tom?
This little turkey family seemed so vulnerable. Although blending well with the surrounding vegetation, the hen was disabled. She was only able to half walk, half hop. Despite her injury, she kept close watch over the babies as they foraged. I was especially surprised that no Tom came charging to protect the flock, which has been my experience with past turkey encounters.
Turkey Hen and Poults
Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)
The turkeys populating Cape Ann are descended from wild-trapped New York birds. By 1851, the Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) was extirpated from Massachusetts because of widespread loss of habitat and hunting. Nine unsuccessful attempts to reestablish the birds were made between 1911 and 1967. Between 1972 and 1973, 37 birds were released in Berkshire County. The bird’s range quickly expanded, establishing populations from the western to the furthest eastern regions of Massachusetts. To read more about the Wild Turkey visit the Massachusetts Audubon Breeding Bird Atlas