Friday, November 26, 2010

"Sexing" Turkeys

Now that you have eaten your turkey, let's talk about "sexing" turkeys.

I was raised on a farm that was primarily a "hens laying eggs farm". Consequently when my Dad bought home chicks it was very important that they had been properly "sexed". The point was to get all little girl chicks. "Sexing" turkeys is pretty easy in the adult wild turkey.

Since turkeys are polygamous it is important that they do what they can to impress the females. Most of the identification in with the head.

They have a large fleshy wattles on their head and neck. Some times the large red flesh are called appropriately carbuncles.

And they have the snood, the fleshy mass over their beak.

Males also have a beard; a group of specialized feathers coming out of the center of their breast.

Male behaviors include strutting, gobbling, drumming, booming and even spitting. All these behaviors are used to attract the females but also to show dominance over males.
Turkeys have a pecking order, not territory like most birds.

Now test your "sexing" skills on the turkeys in the first photo. Who is the Tom and who is the Jenny?

Photos from Madera Canyon.

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