Saturday, April 23, 2011

Birds do it

The hen sits to let the Tom approach her

One more post before I conclude my series on Eastern Wild Turkeys: There are between 18,000 and 20,000 Wild Turkeys in Massachusetts and their mating ritual is a long, drawn out affair. Toms follow the smaller and browner hens for weeks, displaying their colorful feathers and wattles, and competing with one another for courtship rights. While the hens appear indifferent a good deal of the time, they're definitely taking notice as the Toms, strut, gobble (click here to listen) and dance. Hens demand a long courtship period and Toms show tremendous patience, trailing them from dawn to dusk.

Mating itself requires the hen to bear the full weight of the Tom. While she can weigh as much as 12 pounds, he can tip the scales at close to 30. The endurance test for her comes when he stands on her back and stomps before mating. This is the dance he has been practicing during his struts and displays.

Hens emerge unscathed and continue mating until they decide it's time to build their nests. Then, mating season is over.

No comments:

Post a Comment