Monday, February 2, 2015

Hey, Turkey! What's That Thing on Your Face?

Some days it seems that birds are hiding when you go looking for them. That was the case the other day while I was out with a friend looking for Northern Pygmy Owls near Sundance Ski Resort in Utah County, Utah. The owls were not cooperating and it seemed that every other bird had left for better places. When a small group of Wild Turkeys crossed the road I figured it was time to do something other than stare endlessly at bare tree branches and the tops of evergreens and wires and sticks and...everything else a small owl might choose to use for a perch. The turkeys were foraging and occasionally "struttin' their stuff".

I don't want to sound rude or insensitive or offend those who love turkey faces, but at close range a turkey's face is...well...kinda ugly. The color is interesting, but that doesn't hide all the other odd features very well, especially that shape-changing, fleshy protuberance originating from the forehead of the Toms. I won't elaborate on the changing shape of the appendage, but it has to do with blood flow. The beard hanging from the chest is odd by human standards. My wife wouldn't put up with that kind of man-scaping, but then again I'm not a turkey. Well...maybe some people think I am. The fleshy bumps on the neck and head are called caruncles and are similar to the aforementioned protuberance. They also fill with blood and turn bright read when Tom gets worked up for whatever reason.

Here's a series of images I think will show what I'm talking about. They are in sequence to show the metamorphosis of the appendage folks call a "snood". It's purpose is still debated, but its bizarre appearance is not up for debate from my perspective. When I googled "snood" I found snood hair coverings for women. This here Tom might look better wearing that kind of snood instead.

I think I like their looks better when taken in as a whole, from a bit more of a distance.

I can't image how turkeys would describe humans if they could. I guess we are all odd in our own ways. I captured some video as three males were gobbling, foraging, and struttin' their stuff. The snood is in different stages for each Tom. Notice the two strutting have dangling snoods while the third one just seems to have food on its mind so the snood is in the retracted position.

This video is best viewed in 1080p HD


  1. You most definately ARE a turkey <3

  2. Those are some pretty impressive toms and some great pictures! They sure do have ugly heads.