20-Nov-2010Tis the season to be thinking about turkey. Stunning colors, majestic stance and array of ornamentation.
The Ocellated Turkey, called Cutz by the Maya, is a wild bird similar to the domestic turkey. It has never been domesticated, and has survived the radical habitat changes. The tail feathers are green-blue ‘eyespots’ edged in a metallic bronze color. The Cutz survives in large numbers in Mundo Maya and the Yucatan Peninsula.
The Eastern Wild Turkey is the most populous of the five distinct subspecies found in the US. The adult male Eastern, called a gobbler or tom, may measure up to four feet tall and weigh more than 20 pounds. The Eastern Wild Turkey can be found in hardwood and mixed forests from New England and southern Canada to Florida.
The Gould’s Wild Turkey is the least known of the five wild turkey subspecies is the Gould’s or Mexican wild turkey. It is a turkey found in the mountains of northern Mexico with a few in Arizona and New Mexico. The Gould’s turkey has the largest body frame of the five North American subspecies. Its body plumage is blue-green in color and the lower back and rump feathers have copper and greenish-golden reflections. Hens have metallic green and red sheen and are more purplish in color.
The Rio Grande Wild Turkey is native to the semi-arid areas of the southern Great Plains states: Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Northeastern Mexico. At full maturity, it is approximately four feet tall with a slightly smaller body size than the Eastern wild turkey. It is pale and copper-colored having tail feathers and tail/rump coverts tipped with a yellowish buff.
The Merriam’s Wild Turkey, found primarily in western mountain regions of Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado, are approximately the same size as the Eastern. The Merriam has different coloration with black, blue, purple and bronze reflections. Toms have black-tipped breast feathers, while the hens exhibit buff tips. Hens have a more extensive white area on the wings giving a whiter appearance when the wings are folded.
The Florida (aka Osceola) Wild Turkey was named after a famous Seminole Indian Chief. There are approximately 80,000 Osceola turkeys roaming the southern portions of Florida. The Osceola turkey is the smallest of the subspecies, weighing 16 - 18 pounds during its peak breeding period. The Florida turkey show more iridescent green and red colors, with less bronze than the eastern.