Turkey birds are one of the largest birds. They are native to North America. There are two species of turkey bird including “Ocellated turkey” (Meleagris ocellata) and “Wild turkey” (Meleagris gallopavo). They are social and intelligent. They can be found in Canada, United States and Mexico.
Scientific Name Of Turkey Bird:
There are two scientic names of turkey bird. These include,
- Meleagris gallopava
- Meleagris ocellata
Meleagris gallopava is the scientific name of wild turkey bird. The word “Meleagris” derived from a Greek mythology that the goddess of hunt named Artemis converted the sisters of Meleager into guinea fowl. The word “gallapavo” comes from two Latin words that are “gallus” meaning “rooster” and “pavo” meaning “peacock”.
Meleagris ocellata is the scientific name of ocellated turkey bird. The word “ocellata” comes from Latin word “ocellatus” meaning “little eye”. This name is given because of the tail feather spots that are eyelike.
Scientific Classification Of Turkey Bird:
Scientific classification of turkey bird is as follows,
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Aves
- Order: Galliformes
- Family: Phasianidae
- Genus: Meleagris
Size Of Turkey Bird:
The size of wild turkey bird, Males are 100 to 120 centimeters and females are 76 to 95 centimeters. The size of ocellated turkey bird, Size of ocellated turkey bird is 70 to 120 centimeters.
Weight Of Turkey Bird:
Weight Of Wild Turkey Bird, Males are 5 to 11 kilograms and females are 2 to 5 kilograms. Weight of ocellated turkey bird: Males are 5 kilograms and females are 3 kilograms.
Habitat Of Turkey Bird:
There are two species of turkey bird i.e wild turkey and ocellated turkey. Wild turkey bird is native to North America. They can also be found in United States and Mexico. These birds are subjected to hunting.
Ocellated turkey bird is native to Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. They are very similar to wild turkey. That’s why both are included in same genus. Their hunting is less as compared to wild turkey birds because they are endangered species.
Turkey Bird Anatomy:
The anatomical features of turkey bird is as follows
The snood is fleshy protuberance on the top of beak. It’s important to attract attention of females.
Turkey birds can easily spotify hunters with the help of their eyes. Their eyes transmit information to the brain independently of each other i.e. having monocular periscopic vision.
The ears are below eyes and are not visible because they are behind. They help in gobbling because they transmit information related to sound to the brain.
The colour of head changes because of different moods of turkey bird including agitation, excitement etc.
The feathers are arranged in tracts and they help the males in attracting females.
Beard is also known as modified feather.
Turkey birds rarely fly. They use their wings for wing slapping.
Tail fan is one of the courtship display exhibited by males. Males attract females by giving their tails fan like appearance.
Only males have sharp and short spurs projecting from their legs. They help in fighting for pecking.
Appearance Of Turkey Bird:
Wild turkey birds:
Wild turkey males are called as “toms”. They have large sized bodies. Their feathers are gray brown in colour that has shiny appearance. Heads have no feathers. They have red wattles (a coloured fleshy lobe) on the neck. The tail feathers are colourful. These tail feathers give fan like appearance that is a common distinguishable feature of wild turkey bird.
“Jake” is the term used for juvenile males. They have short beards and their tails are covered with feathers.
The difference between adult wild turkey and young wild turkey is the size and length of tail feathers. Adults have uniform size and length. While, young ones have non uniform size and length of their tail feathers.
Males have sharp spurs that project from their legs. Wild turkey females are called as “hens”. They have gray or brown coloured feathers. They are different from males because their tail feathers are not colourful. In addition, their tail feathers rarely give fan like appearance.
“Jenny” is the term for juvenile females. They are similar to adult females except their size. They are smaller as compared to adult females.
Both male and female wild turkey birds have a snood (fleshy projection) that protrudes from the beak. Both possess beard (tuft of feathers) under their beaks.
Ocellated turkey birds:
Both the male and female have sparkling bronze appearance with green feathers. Their fan tails are shorter as compared to wild turkey birds. The fan tail is blue gray coloured. They also exhibit spot (eye shaped) at the tip of tail. Because of this eye shaped spot, they are called as ocellated. Moreover, their wing feathers are black and white. They also have red legs, blue heads and orange snoods. Males have spurs projecting from their legs but they are thinner and longer.
Turkey Bird Beard:
Turkey birds possess a tuft of feathers called as beard under their beaks. Male turkey birds usually use these beards to attract females. The age is turkey bird is directly proportional to the size of beard.
Behavior Of Turkey Bird:
Wild turkey birds:
Wild turkey birds are diurnal. They graze in fields during day and roost at night. They have sharp hearing and eyesight. They can run at fast speed.
- They are social and live in the form of bands in winter.
- They are non-migratory, motile and sedentary.
Ocellated turkey birds:
Ocellated turkey birds are also diurnal and fast fliers like wild turkeys. They are social and live in the form of flocks. They are motile and sedentary.
Diet Of Turkey Bird:
Turkey bird is an omnivorous bird. They can eat both plants and meat. They eat fruits, grass, insects etc. They require large amount of protein because of their large sized body. They mostly prey on acorns during winter.
Reproduction Of Turkey Bird:
Wild turkey birds:
Wild turkey birds are polygynous (having more than one female at a time). They exhibit several courtship displays like gobbling and strutting. Their tails give fan like appearance. The breeding season of wild turkey bird is spring. Nesting sites include depression in the ground.
Female usually lays 4 to 17 eggs. The incubation period is 25 to 31 days. After 24 hours of hatching, the chicks will be able to walk and feed by themselves. The mother protects the chicks for about 2 weeks after hatching.
Ocellated turkey birds:
The signs of breeding season include change in appearance of males, skin becomes more colourful and crowns become larger in size. They show gobbling and strutting to attract females. Tails give fan like appearance while gobbling.
These birds are also polygynous. Female lays 8 to 16 eggs. The nesting site includes small cavity covering with dense vegetation. Young ones can walk and feed after hatching.
Turkey Bird Baby:
Baby turkey birds are called as “poults”. Female can lay 4 to 17 eggs. After the incubation for 25 to 31 days, the chicks start hatching and leave the nest after 2 weeks. They will be able to walk and feed by themselves after 2 weeks.
Turkey Bird Eggs:
Turkey bird eggs are richer in nutrients as compared to chicken eggs. They are 50% larger in size. They contain double amount of calories and fat as compared to chicken eggs. Moreover, cholesterol is four times greater in amount. They are edible.
Communication Of Turkey Bird:
Wild turkey birds:
Wild turkey birds use some vocalizations and physical displays for communication. During breeding season of spring, males gobble while giving fan like appearance of their tails. In addition to gobbling, there are 15 other vocalizations observed.
Ocellated turkey birds:
Ocellated turkey birds are less vocal as compared to wild turkey birds. This is because of the threat of extinction by predator species. So, they remain mostly quiet in order to be undetected. Males make some drumming sounds, gobbling and strutting.
Threats To Turkey Birds:
Wild turkey birds, Humans are the primary predators of wild turkey birds. Other predators include grey foxes, raccoons, woodchunks etc. Ocellated turkey birds, The predators of ocellated turkey birds include ocelots, grey foxes, margay cats etc.
Turkey Bird Attack:
Wild turkey birds become aggressive during breeding seasons because of the competition with flocks. To avoid the attacks of turkey birds, you must not feed them. You should remove feeders of birds. Moreover, make sure to avoid turkey birds exposed by any shiny object like car windows and mirrors.
Turkey Bird Aggressive:
Wild turkey birds become aggressive during seasons of breeding. The reason of this aggressiveness is the competition with other flocks during courtship.
Relationship Between Humans And Turkey Birds:
Wild turkey birds are known as the game bird species of United States. Regulated hunting and habitat preservation are the major contribution to economy provided by ocellated turkey birds.
Conservation Status Of Turkey Bird:
Wild turkey birds, The conservation status of wild turkey birds is “not endangered”. They are widespread. Ocellated turkey birds, The conservation status of ocellated turkey birds is “near threatened”. This is because of excessive loss of habitat and hunting.
Turkey Birds Facts:
Some of the facts about turkey bird are,
- Turkey birds is one of the largest birds.
- There are two species of turkey birds i.e. Wild turkey and Ocellated turkey.
- They are social, diurnal, sedentary, motile and polygynous.
- They exhibit gobbling, strutting and their tail give fan like appearance during breeding.
- They are omnivores.
- Only males perform gobbling.
- Wild turkey is used as game bird species of United States.
- The gender of turkey bird can be determined by droppings. Female form spiral shaped droppings and male forms J shaped droppings.
Turkey Birds Benefits:
Some of the benefits of turkey birds include,
- Turkey birds can serve as a rich source of proteins, vitamin B12, niacin and zinc.
- They are rich source of selenium (trace mineral). That’s why they have anti-cancer properties.
- They contain less fat as compared to chicken.
- They contain tryptothan which is the main source of serotonin. That’s why they are mood enhancers.
- They are rich source of vitamin B6 that produces various active molecules necessary for the body.
Turkey Birds Can Fly Or Not?
Wild turkey birds can fly during day time and roost at night. They feed on ground. That’s why many people have misconception about them that they can’t fly. The average wingspan is about 4.7 feet.
Turkey Birds As A Pet:
A turkey birds serves as a great pet. They are attractive. When males start galloping and strutting then it can serve as a regal sight. You can use the eggs of turkey birds. These are the substitute of chicken eggs. They are very affectionate pets. They need gardens because they can’t live indoors. So, make sure to provide garden to them.
Turkey Birds Diseases:
Some of the diseases of turkey birds are,
This disease is caused by a parasite in the liver.
- Symptoms of this disease include lack of appetite, lethargy and yellow droppings.
- To avoid this situation, it is advisable to keep turkey birds away from chickens.
This is also caused by a protozoan parasite that is picked up from droppings. To prevent this disease it is necessary to maintain good hygiene and clean litter to prevent the parasite from growing.
This is a soil borne disease. This can enter through skin having damaged areas. Symptoms include swollen head, neck and joints.
Pasteurella (Fowl Cholera):
This is highly infectious disease. Good hygiene is necessary to control this disease. Symptoms include loss of appetite and listlessness.
How To Train A Turkey Birds:
Following are some tips to train a turkey birds,
- When you visit them, greet them using the same words in same tone every time.
- Give them food whenever you visit them.
- When you give them food, make sure to use the same container.
- By following these tips, your bird will become trained and recognize you in short period of time.
Lifespan Of Turkey Bird:
The average lifespan of wild turkey bird is 1.3 to 1.6 years. The oldest wild turkey bird recorded is of 13 years. The average lifespan of domesticated turkey bird is 10 years.
Turkey bird is fascinating, one of the largest birds and are native to North America. They are well known for their courtship displays including bobbling and strutting. They are unique birds because of their anatomical features including snood and beard. They are the most attractive birds.