Creature Feature

Creature Feature – Turkey Tidbits

Posted by  //  November 6, 2023  //  Articles, Creature Feature

Most people know a little about the Wild Turkey, including how the male bird is called a Tom or gobbler, and the female a hen.  Other folks might even recall that the Wild Turkey was nearly hunted to extinction until restoration programs successfully reestablished it across North America.  Today, let’s explore a few lesser known facts about November’s feathered icon. 

Only male turkeys sport spurs and a beard — but both genders have wattles (the fleshy red skin dangling under the chin) and snoods (an appendage hanging from the face).  Studies have shown that the length of a Tom’s snood is associated with health and can predict whether he will dominate a rival.  Research also reveals that hens prefer Toms with longer snoods!  During breeding season, Toms sometimes group up to woo hens, but only one male gets to mate.

In search of food and water, Wild Turkeys may wander several miles a day.  Acorns are a favored food this time of year.  When a turkey finds an acorn, it picks it up, stretches out its neck and swallows.  The tough nut gets stored and softened in the bird’s crop before passing on to the gizzard, where it is ground down by powerful muscles and tiny stones eaten to aid digestion.  

Article by Margie Manthey
Photo by Tammy Nash

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