Monday, October 30, 2017

Talking To The Toms

In the photo above is a Broad Breasted White Turkey.  It's the most common commercial broad breasted strain of eating turkeys today.  In fact, it's what most Americans will be sitting down to a table with on Thanksgiving.  

These two turkeys in these photos belong to a friend of Ed's. While Ed was talking motorcycles and planning his next trail ride with his friend, I had an opportunity to see get close to the turkeys and capture a few shots of them wandering around the yard. 

Most of the following turkey information I gathered online, cobbled together from different sources and mostly plagiarized.  Please don't sue me. 

A male turkey is called a "tom" and a female turkey is called a "hen".  Both of these turkeys are toms. 

In the photo below, you can see the turkey's ear, his snood, and his wattle. 

The ear is the whitish ring on the side of his head.  A Tom (male) turkey hears extremely well. 

The snood is the fleshy piece hanging down over the turkey's beak.  The snood is longer in males than females and they have no known function.  When the tom is relaxed, the snood is short.  When the tom struts - as they were doing when I took these photos, with their tailfeathers all fanned out - the snood engorges with blood and hangs down further over the beak.

The wattle is the piece that hangs down under his neck.  The snood and the wattle fill up with blood and turn bright red when a tom wants to attract a hen but can also turn blue if the turkey is scared.

The fleshy, bumpy growths on the head and neck are called caruncles. 

The male turkey, a Tom, has a tuft of long, bristle-like fibers attached to the breast called a beard.  You can see them here - they are the grey strands poking out from his breast.  It can be anywhere from an inch long to more than 10 inches long, although that's rare.  The beard is not hair, it's a modified feather that forms a stiff bristle.  Beards vary in length and thickness and can have various curls and kinks.

The turkeys were extremely docile (except when they started fighting with each other - which I'll post a video of in an upcoming post, or you can see it on my Instagram here and here) and followed me around the yard.  They allowed me to touch them, which is how I discovered their extremely soft feather.  I was actually petting and talking to a turkey.

In this photo, you can see their fan, the prominent feature when a turkey struts.  The fan is made up of 18 tail feathers 12 to 15 inches long.  Adult males have tail feathers that are uniform in length.

These turkeys are flightless birds and they were much bigger than I expected, at least 25 pounds each.

And although we got chicken eggs from Jim the last time Ed was there, he didn't have any turkey eggs on hand.  From what I've read, commercial turkey farmers (of which Jim is not) aren't in the egg business, they'd have to wait a whole lot longer to collect them since they don't lay as often as chickens do, and they're expensive.  

After meeting these two guys, you'd think I'd feel bad about looking forward to Thanksgiving.  I don't.

Pass the cranberry sauce!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2016: Hand Truckin'

2015: Zero Tolerance
2014: Twenty Minutes On The Water
2013: 1960s First Aid
2012: Far From The Soaking Of The East
2011: Inspired
2010: Lucky To Be A Woman
2009: I Feel Like A Thief
2008: Emulating The Brazilian Bombshell
2007: HMMWVs
2006: She’s Still Learning
2005: Woof

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