Wild Turkey 7 April 2008, Marsh Road, near Milpitas, Santa Clara County. Photo © 2008 Joseph Morlan

This male's ritualized courtship display is called the "Strut." The tail is fanned vertically, wings are lowered and primaries 37 drag on the ground. The back feathers are elevated, the head thrown backward with the bill forward, and the crop is inflated. The brightly colored skin of the head is decorated with a frontal process called a "snood" which is extended during courtship. In combat, males often grab each other by the snood and the loser walks away with his snood retracted.

I'm not making this up.

This species was introduced into this area in March 1969 using 14 "California hybrids" from San Luis Obispo County. These hybrid types originally came by crossbreeding one of the Arizona (M g. merriami) which has light buff tail tips, or Mexican (M. g. gallopavo) races with domestic stock. The domestic birds are believed to have originated from Southern Mexico (M. g. gallopavo) which have white tail tips.

These early introductions have been extremely successful and the bird is now considered a nuisance in some areas.

Panasonic DMC-LZ5 / Nikon FS 3 / 30XWA / hand-held, no adapter.
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