|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|It was on our ride to the ancient Mayan ruins of Tikal that I first laid eyes on this magnificent fowl on the side of the road. I desperately tried to take a few shots out of the car window as the driver tried to slow down, but I knew that there was no way those pictures would be in focus. I was so disappointed. Little did I know that I would have a chance to see many more of them once we arrived at Tikal. They were all over the place, in small groups, pecking away at the grass or in the bush. I could not stop taking pictures of them, so enchanted was I with their brilliant colors and amusing behavior. I hope you enjoy this image of an ocellated turkey strutting on the steps of an ancient Mayan pyramid.|
P.S. I just found out doing the research for the note that this bird is called the "ocellated" turkey, and not the "oscillated" turkey, as I had thought. I had been wondering which part of their anatomy was prone to oscillation!
The Ocellated Turkey lives only in the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico and in the northern parts of Belize and Guatemala.
The body feathers of both sexes are a mixture of bronze and green iridescent color. Although females can be duller with more green, the breast feathers do not generally differ and cannot be used to determine sex. Neither sex has beards. Tail feathers of both sexes are bluish-grey with an eye-shaped, blue-bronze spot near the end with a bright gold tip. The spots, for which the Ocellated is named, lead some scientists to believe that the bird is more related to peafowl than to Wild Turkeys. The upper, major secondary wing coverts are rich iridescent copper. The primary and secondary wing feathers have similar barring to that of North American turkeys, but the secondaries have more white, especially around the edges.
Both sexes have blue heads with some orange or red nodules, which are more pronounced on males. The males also have a fleshy blue crown covered with nodules, similar to those on the neck, behind the snood. During breeding season this crown swells up and becomes brighter and more pronounced in its yellow-orange color. The eye is surrounded by a ring of bright red skin, which is most visible on males during breeding season. The legs are deep red and are shorter and thinner than on North American turkeys. Males over one year old have spurs on the legs that average 4 cm (1.5 inches), which lengths of over 6 cm (2.5 inches) being recorded. These spurs are much longer and thinner than on North American turkeys.
Ocellated Turkeys are much smaller than any of the subspecies of North American Wild Turkey, with adult hens weighing in at about 4 kg (8 pounds) before laying eggs and 3 kg (6-7 pounds) the rest of the year, and adult males weighing about 5–6 kg (11-15 pounds) during breeding season.
Turkeys spend most of the time on the ground and often prefer to run to escape danger through the day rather than fly, though they can fly swiftly and powerfully for short distances as the majority of birds in this order do in necessity. Roosting is usually high in trees away from night hunting predators such as Jaguars and usually in a family group.
Female Ocellated Turkeys lay 8-15 eggs in a well concealed nest on the ground. She incubates the eggs for 28 days. The young are precocial and able to leave the nest after one night. They then follow their mother until they reach young adulthood when they begin to range though often regrouping to roost.
The voice is similar to the northern species: the male making the "Gobbling" sound during the breeding season, while the female bird makes a "clucking" sound.
Branton and Berryhill (2007) have observed that the male Ocellated Turkey does not gobble per se like the Wild Turkey. Rather, his song is distinct and includes some six to seven bongo-like bass tones which quicken in both cadence and volume until a crescendo is reached whereupon the bird’s head is fully erect while he issues forth a rather high-pitched but melodious series of chops. The Ocellated Turkey will typically begin his singing 20 to 25 minutes before sunrise – similar to the Wild Turkeys in North America.
roges, Chiza, Taralee, Argus, uleko, loot has marked this note useful
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amazing colours, TFS Ori
- [2010-01-03 12:42]
splendid image for the new year. Year began well with a beautiful composition, congratulations.
I warmly wish a HAPPY NEW YEAR! with health and happiness to you and those dear to you.
I look forward to other pictures in 2010.
- [2010-01-03 15:55]
Hola Maayee: Como me gusta esta especie, es espectacular, tengo que ir a buscarla a Guatemala. Ha logrado un foto excelente, saludos.
- [2010-01-04 0:46]
Nice capture of this bird with so interesting colors.
Good picture,well done.
Very interesting bird, I never seen before. TFS.
- [2010-01-05 2:58]
Very nice photo of this Ocellated Turkey. Excellent sharpness and details and beautiful colours. A pity is the white spot in front of the head. I was in Tikal more than 10 years ago, but I didn't see them.
Enjoy your holiday,
- [2010-01-05 23:31]
A fine capture of a superb specimen of an Ocellated Turkey. The POV and colors against the BG of the ruins are great and show the splendour of this magnificent bird.
Thanks and I wish you and your family a happy and healthy 2010!
- [2010-01-07 3:59]
What a beautiful species of Turkey!! I like its pose walking along the wall and displaying its wonderful plumage. Great focus on the eye too and well composed.
Many thanks and cheers, Ulla
- [2010-01-07 18:12]
Weird and wonderful. It's almost like some of those kids in your school took out their
colour crayons and gone ballistic. The reflective qualities of the plumage is obvious,
but I've stopped counting at about 18 different colours and there probably are still much
more than this. I tried to visualise the incident when you attempted to capture the first
turkey, that you've seen on your trip. I am sure it wasn't as calm and collected as you
endeavour to make it sound like in your notes. The guide probably thought this senorita
from California must have had some malpitte for breakfast. As you must have gathered
by now, I just love the image. Great details and wonderful colours and it even got a bit
of history in it seeing that the BG is part of the ancient Mayan ruins.
Well done MF and TFS.
A magnificant fowl it is, a picture can really never do this species any justice as the iridescence of the feathers are incredible to see in person, and the effect can't really be captured with a still camera but your image shows this pretty subject off very nicely. It a funny bird, it's both ugly but then so pretty.