Adventure on the edge of the wilderness can take on many forms and one of them is watching wildlife and learning about the turkey trot.
Toms and hens have been having a wild turkey parade on our lawn; the gobblers having harems of 20 or more females! It’s mating season and the males are strutting their stuff.
As in other large birds, male turkeys exhibit strong sexual dimorphism. They are larger than the females, and aside from the gobblers wrinkly fleshy heads and necks, the males are handsome birds. Their feathers range in color from brown to brownish-black and have an overall coppery or iridescent sheen.
When male turkeys display their fan-shaped tail and bronze wings, they are quite impressive dudes and simply irresistible to hens.
So irresistible, in fact, that one of the hens in our yard laid down outside our kitchen window in submission to a tom. Honestly, at first I didn’t know what to make of it. I thought something was wrong with the female, that perhaps she was sick or something. But, I quickly caught on.
This is how wild turkeys do the turkey trot.
At first, the tom appeared to reject the advances of the hen. He walked in figure eights close by as she lay there patiently. I thought as he walked he might be considering how embarrassing the whole thing was going to be with all of us watching. It was only a matter of a few minutes before he relented, walked over, and stood on top of the female’s back. This is where it got interesting as he began doing the turkey trot – a kind of stepping motion on the hen’s back. Picture a kind of turkey back massage – to make the hen more receptive.
We continued watching and a couple of times I thought the deed was done, but it wasn’t. Finally it was over and David had captured the mating dance on video for all the world to see.
I learned a thing or two about wild turkeys that day.
One – The toms do not have typical male parts as one might think. They have pouches from which they spray semen onto the female’s cloaca.
Two – The females hold the semen in pouches until they find a nesting spot to lay their eggs. They lay their eggs once a day and it’s usually only one. After about a week or so, they have a clutch of approximately 10 eggs. This is when they fertilize the eggs and begin sitting on the nest in earnest.
I also learned that you never know what you are going to see out of your kitchen window.
The visits from wild turkeys have been waning, perhaps because mating season is coming to an end as hunting season gets into full swing.
And I’m keeping my eye on Henrietta. I think she may be nesting down the hill.
Everywhere you look, life is an adventure!
Sources for this post: Wikipedia, Wild Turkey Biology Facts, NWTF