Wattle’s Up?

Turkeys gobbling wildly on the hill above the cabin.

They’ve taken up residence just this year. A turkey explosion has hit the greater metropolitan area of New York. There’s even a female down at Battery Park, waddling her way across streets, turning heads and stopping traffic. Is the bald eagle the most American of birds, or is the turkey the true icon?

And what in fact is a wattle? A fleshy dewlap or caruncle, it is  mating catnip, apparently. A large wattle has been linked to high testosterone levels. When the tom is excited, its wattles and a fleshy flap over the beak, called a snood, can enlarge to the extent that they obscure the eyes. Its head turns blue.

But you’ve heard enough about the turkey’s secondary sex characteristics, I suppose. What about the gobble? The sound can carry for up to a mile, but toms also yelp, purr, spit, cackle and whine. The females I guess sit placidly by, foraging for acorns, amused by their ridiculous turkey suitors. Waiting for them to fan their tails: yeah, go on, impress me.

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Filed under Home, Jean Zimmerman, Nature

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