Monday, November 8, 2010

New Outlook on Wild Turkey Behavior

Yesterday, as I returned from a town trip, I pulled into a driveway that was doubling as a wild turkey battleground.  Two males had engaged in battle and were so intent on their contest to establish dominance that they were in some sort of alternate universe - they paid me no mind as I stood there watching, mouth agape.  After a minute or two of watching, I rushed inside to make sure Dino saw what was going on.  Turned out he was well aware and that the battle had already been raging for well over an hour.  He'd been photographing and was only inside to grab another type of flash unit. 

Neither male showed any signs of backing down - they were using their beaks to grab the head of the other combatant and then twist the neck into horrible-looking contortions.  Occasionally, one would seem to get the upper hand, forcing the other into a corner (against the fence) and then the tide would turn again.  As dark fell, they were still at it.  We don't know the outcome - there were no turkeys about the place this morning (no carcasses either that we know of).

As we were reviewing the photos, I admit to feeling a tad icked out by the mess they were making of each other.  This is not at all one of the most gruesome looking pics.

Subsequent research found this charming quote:  "Turkeys also spend a lot of time establishing a pecking order in the flock during the fall which means there is a lot of fighting going on between birds to find out who is more dominant. This makes fighting purrs especially effective calls in the fall because not many turkeys will turn down a good fight" from The Wild Turkey Zone website, unfortunately a site devoted to turkey hunting.

Of course, we understand the concept of "pecking order", we'd just never SEEN anything like this.

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