Archive for Galliforms

Wild Turkey 11/2/18

That hairy boinker rising from this young Wild Turkey’s forehead is called a snood, one of a number of fleshy execrecences called caruncles or carnosities such as those red warty squiggles at the back of the head and neck, but which also includes the wattles and dewlaps under the chin, and in other birds can include combs, crests, and other protrusions. Female Turkeys are called hens, males are gobblers or Toms, hatchlings are called poults and young males like this one are called Jakes. As he matures his snood becomes long and pendulous up to 5 or 6 inches, flopped over and hanging well below the bill, and the skin from which the various caruncles protrude becomes a bright pale blue in a mature gobbler.

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Wild Turkey hen and poults 7/10/16

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Wild Turkeys make the rounds of my neighborhood regularly. Being omnivorous they prefer a mix of hardwood forest and open areas where they can forage for a variety of food sources as the seasons change. The big toms have nothing to do with the rearing of the poults which are “nidifugous,” meaning they leave the nest shortly after hatching. Young poults stay with their moms and as they grow, the hens and their broods join up into larger groups. In the 1500s, Wild Turkeys from Mexico were imported to Europe and the Middle East and became very popular on account of their size, and from these domestic turkeys were bred. Meanwhile, Wild Turkey populations slowly disappeared from most of their original range on account of overhunting by the early 20th century, but since the 1940s have been successfully re-introduced so they can now be found in all the US states except Alaska.

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Ruffed Grouse 10/23/14

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Like chickens and turkeys, Ruffed Grouse are members of the pheasant family. They are chunky omnivorous birds of the forest floor, living off buds, catkins, leaves, twigs, seeds, berries, and some insects depending on the season. To help them digest all the tough cellulose in their diet, you’ll often find them along dirt roads and trails in the mornings and evenings pecking for grit. In the evening they take to the trees like this one to roost for the night—a bit safer from ground-prowling bobcat, lynx, fox and marten. They are also preyed on by larger raptors like goshawks and owls, not to mention being a popular game bird for humans. They are found from Alaska to Newfoundland with their range extending south through the Appalachian and Rocky Mountain states, but they don’t migrate. There are a number of subspecies and they also come in both gray and rufous morphs.

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Wild Turkeys 9/27/14

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Why did the Turkeys cross the road?

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Ruffed Grouse in molt 6/24/14

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About a month ago male Ruffed Grouse were drumming on the highland slopes here, sounding much like a lawnmower failing to start.

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Wild Turkey toms 4/11/14

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Ruffed Grouse 10/28/13

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Quite a few Ruffed Grouse on the lower end road this fall, this one crossing the Jimmy’s Lane. I’ve also seen them in the trees at the dusk pecking on Mountain Ash berries.

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