the beauty prize goes to…

me, me, me!

ME, ME, ME!  ta-dah!

Strutting, posing, gobbling, fluffing, more strutting, this magnificent tom made his way across the yard to the bird feeder and spent most of the morning and a lot of the afternoon there.  A few of his many poses to show off his colors.

There were no hens present, so he didn't do the full tail up, wings down display.

There were no hens present, so he didn’t do the full tail up, wings down display.

How many colors do you see?

How many colors do you see?

Wattles on the neck become engorged with blood when the bird is "excited" and turn bright red.

Wattles on the neck become engorged with blood when the bird is “excited” and turn bright red.

That little appendage above the beak is called a snood.  It turns bright blue when the turkey is sexually excited, and bright red when it is ready to fight.

That little appendage above the beak is called a snood. It turns bright blue when the turkey is sexually excited, and bright red when it is ready to fight.  Sometimes it hangs  down loosely flopping over the bill (must get in the way when he pecks at food on the ground!).

Little appreciated factoids about one of our national treasures:

  • Turkeys really can fly!  Fast, in fact, up to 60 mph for a short 1/4 mile stretch.  This is an even more impressive feat when you consider that wild males can weigh over 10 kg (more than 20 pounds) but have a meager wingspan of just over 1 meter (around 4 feet).   Compared with a Great Blue Heron, which has roughly the same wingspan, but 1/10 the body weight, turkeys are flying tanks!
  • Why is this bird called a turkey, instead of the Great Breasted Iridescent Pheasant?  Blame it on the British, who were confused about where they were getting their game birds.  British imports coming from both Asia and the Americas once went through Istanbul (Constantinople, then).  The British simply called the birds by the name of their import origin — Turkey, and the name stuck.

9 thoughts on “the beauty prize goes to…

    • Well, if you can believe anything you read on the Internet…that is the supposed origin of the name. Now why would imports from the Americas go west instead of east across the Atlantic????

  1. The Soviets actually tried to build a flying tank during WWII. It didn’t go so great.

    Tom turkeys are very attractive and entertaining birds. I didn’t know that they got engorged wattles/faceboners as part of their display.

  2. Another great post. I look forward to the follow up one day when you capture a turkey in flight. You’ve been capturing quite a range of wildlife lately!

    • I once saw the hens glide down from about 20 feet up in the oak tree in the backyard, so maybe I will be able to capture them flying up sometime.

  3. I will reserve judgment on whether or not his is beautiful, but he sure is colorful. Your shots really do a great job in highlighting those colors. I’ve never seen a wild turkey in real life and I suppose my mental image of them comes from elementary school days, when we would pin pictures of turkeys to the classroom walls as we got ready for Thanksgiving.

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