Avian Biology 101 Professor Snowpea: An Interactive Lesson


Today we shall be learning a bit about our feathered friends, the turkey.  Let's pop in to watch Junior Professor-In-Training Juniper Snowpea as she shares a visual lesson with us about these wonderful birds.


This is a lovely example of the wild North American turkey.


Scientific name: Meleagris gallopavo.


This specimen is a male turkey, also called a Tom or a gobbler.


Here, you can clearly see the wattle (flap of skin under the turkey's chin).
This turns red when the turkey is upset or during courtship.
This example seems to be either very angry, or in quite an amorous mood
as his wattle and snood are a pronounced orange-red.


This angle shows the beak and has another good view of the wattle.
Also part of the beak is the snood, which is a flap of skin that hangs over the beak.
This Tom is very young, therefore the snood is not as developed as one might hope.


Turkeys have quite vicious claws on the backs of their legs called spurs.
They can inflict serious damage and are used during mating as well.
This little fellow did me some serious injury earlier today! I think he was going for the jugular!


Turkeys ingest tiny stones to help them digest their food.
They are called gizzard stones. Looks as if this little fellow has quite a potbelly,
perhaps he should lay off the bugs and acorns a bit! Ha Ha Ha!
Most farm turkeys are too heavy to fly, although wild turkeys are capable of flight.


During mating rituals, the male Tom will fluff out his tail feathers,
as you see this specimen doing here, to attract a mate.


Seems this little fellow has noticed us at last. Perhaps a less baleful glare would go further
in attracting a mate than puffing out those tiny feathers will ever do!


That concludes today's lesson, before I get attacked again.
The wounds are still bubbling
and I think they're starting to smell a little funky.


Happy Thanksgiving Everybody!


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All photography and text by Sher of Emberwilde, 2005.
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