Friday, February 13, 2009

Talkin' Turkey


This turkey came a visiting while my friend and I were having our after gym coffee. We call him a Bush Turkey but his real name is either a Scrub or Brush Turkey.

He is a spectacular creature with browny black plumage, a wide, flat, fan tail, a bald red head and a yellow wattle.

At breeding time the male's head and wattle brighten and the wattle enlarges. I think this visitor is a youngster. ( I took his photo the next day - see how he doesn't yet have a yellow wattle - or maybe he is a young she.)
The turkey is a clumsy noisy flyer, roosting in the trees at night or in the heat of day but we usually see him strutting along at ground level.

Turkeys are very common in our town and while twenty years ago it was thought that they may become extinct ,their numbers are now increasing.
Turkeys are communal birds, making communal nests. The nests are large mounds of leaves, mulch and earth stretching 1 to 1.5 m high and up to 4 m across.

The eggs hatch under Dad's care in the heat of the nest. Dad checks the temperature by poking his beak into the nest then adds or removes vegetation in order to maintain a 33-35 * C incubation temperature range. If the nest gets too cool more males will hatch and conversely if it's too hot more females will arrive. So it would be quite correct to call them 'Hot chicks' . The same breeding site is used year after year and the average clutch is between 16 and 24 large white eggs.

The world of Brush Turkey experts is excitedly buzzing at present due to the sighting here in town, of a 'gold' chick with fluffy golden down. The rare gold chick appears to be the offspring of an equally rare creature - an albino mother. It surprises the experts that the albino mother has survived to adulthood for two reasons. Firstly because 90% of chicks just don't make it and secondly, because being white the albino would be very conspicuous against the vegetation and earth of her habitat and therefore be more easily spotted by predators including the hawk.

This little chick, if she survives will become as white as her mother. Good luck Goldie!



  1. 16 - 24 eggs!!

    Plumage is so important for birds. And we just think they look pretty!

  2. Love that sweet yellow chick! It tickles me to think of turkeys just wandering around the place.

  3. Bee: Welcome to my nest!!! I have been enjoying reading your very thoughtful pages. These birds are so unafraid of people ~ almost nonchalant...

  4. Interesting and informative post. The turkeys you've discussed are definitely Brush Turkeys. Or Scrub Turkeys.

    Bush Turkeys are not too intelligent, sure of their values, and native to Texas.

  5. Hi Delwyn,

    In California wild turkeys have become quite common also. I've been told that wild turkeys fill an environmental niche similar to the one occupied by our state bird, the California Quail. In any event, turkeys, once a rare sight, are now common. I just drove past a flock (do you call turkey groups flocks??) on my way home from work today.

    Thanks for your post.

    By the way, Ms. Anonymous made me laugh, though her comments sounded just a bit mean. I'll bet she lost money in the Bush financial fiasco.

  6. Good morning Delwyn thank you for this post today..they are always so busy making these massive nests a true builder in every sense...

  7. 'Morning to you Violet Sky
    Anon: very funny - those Texas turkeys sure talk a lot of gobbledegook

    Dan: Do your turkeys look like these? I wonder if the collective noun is a gaggle of turkeys?? like geese,- Ours are solitary wanderers.

    Mona: Yes and now I know why they are often to be seen flicking some of the nest over the pathways in the National Park.- hot chicks!

  8. hehe...the scrub turkey is a party crasher! nice post and here's the low down on the word maven:
    have a great night!

  9. Very interesting, especially the albino turkey. Thanks for dropping by my place. I'll be back to visit ... seems there are a few of you from "down under" that I enjoy checking in on.
    Bye... Cheryl

  10. Well, in answer to my own question about what we call a group of turkeys (at least here in the US) according to the State of Michigan,

    "Most people are familiar with the term "flock of pigeons" and even "gaggle of geese," but did you know that a group of turkeys is called a "rafter"? And baby turkeys are called poults."

    A rafter of turkeys. Hmmm. I've can't remember hearing anyone actually SAY that.

    They are not solitary here. I see groups of females with a single tom. Our turkeys look similar, but they're a different species. Wikipedia has an article on them with pictures.

  11. Tnaks Dan: I had a look, your bird seems bigger, And it said that the Au turkey is not closely related to the US one. Interesting things we learn every day...

  12. Cheryl: Good to see(hear, no read )you on my page...

    Beth: thanks for the lead..I now know how respectable and honoured your little mavens are.

  13. Dan: methinks I should proofread some more...the hand runs ahead of the eyes...

  14. Hello Delwyn-just thought to send you this additional information about my post today-Drawn by Nature by M hodges-

    Hodges accompanied Captain Cook on his second voyage to the South Seas from 1772-75. He mainly drew landscapes, but also some animals, birds and the peoples of the Pacific islands visited by the European explorers. Many of his views were later worked up into oil paintings or reproduced as engravings in published accounts of Cook's voyages and discoveries.

  15. Mona: so he was a VERY early visitor. Thanks Mona.


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