• Biodiversity Ocellated Turkey
  • Central American Turkey - The Ocellated Turkey

    Meleagris ocellata

    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 possesses the beard typically found in Wild Turkeys. 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, or ocelli (located on the tail), for which the Ocellated Turkey is named, have been likened to the patterning typically found on peafowl.[2] 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 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.[3]

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    Written by Haley Nelson

    I'm a science writer, filmmaker and host for Untamed Science. If it's quirky or adventurous science, I'm all over it. While my past study species have included bryophytes and leeches, my current passions are in the white squirrel phenomenon, trees, and earth science.

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