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Have You Ever Seen a Tom Turkey's Beard?

The older the tom, the longer the beard
© Frank Schulenburg View Large

With his brilliantly colored plumage fanned out in display, this tom (male) Wild Turkey is a handsome sight to behold. He has a bright red head, long spurs, and… a beard. This “beard” is a small cluster of bristles that sprouts from the bird’s chest plumage. It looks like a misplaced ponytail. The older the tom, the longer the beard.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®

Have You Ever Seen a Tom Turkey’s Beard?

Written by Monica Gokey
 
This is BirdNote.

[gobble gobble gobble]

That’s the gobble of a tom turkey, a big male. He weighs nearly twenty-five pounds. That rubbery, gurgling sound is his way of telling nearby hens that he’s eager for company. It’s also his way of telling nearby toms to back off.

It’s spring, and the mating season is in full flush.

[more gobbling]

If he’s lucky, a hen might yelp in reply.

[yelp!-yelp!-yelp! of a hen turkey]*

“I’m here!” she says, letting him know she’s receptive to a mate.

With his brilliantly colored plumage fanned out in display, this tom is a handsome sight to behold. He has a bright red head, long spurs, and… a beard. This “beard” is a small cluster of bristles that sprouts from the bird’s chest plumage. It looks like a misplaced ponytail. The older the tom, the longer the beard.

[hen turkey cutting sound -- cluck-cluck-cluck-yelp!-cluck-cluck]*
 
If a hen turkey likes what she sees, she’ll crouch as a signal that she’s ready to mate.

After mating, the two birds go their separate ways.

When the breeding season wanes, hens will lay eggs and sit their nests. With any luck, baby turkeys should arrive about a month later.

For BirdNote, I’m Michael Stein.

###

Producer: John Kessler

Managing Producer: Jason Saul

Editor: Ashley Ahearn

Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone

Assistant Producer: Mark Bramhill

Narrator: Michael Stein

Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. ML 129251 WITU recorded by G Budney.

BirdNote’s theme was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.

© 2019 BirdNote   May 2019

ID: WITU-05-2019-05-06   WITU-05


How turkeys talk to each other during mating:

https://www.wideopenspaces.com/sounds-turkeys-make-and-what-they-all-mean/

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