Ocellated Turkey

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Considerably smaller than the North American Wild Turkey with more iridescent breast feathers. Both sexes have bluish-gray tails with a well-defined, eye-shaped, blue-bronze colored spot near the end followed by bright gold tip. These spots give the Ocellated Turkey its name (the Latin word for eye is oculus). Neither sex has the “beard” that is indicative of North American Turkeys. Ocellated Turkeys also have a distinct eye-ring of bright red colored skin, especially visible on adult males during the breeding season.

Range:
Only found in the Yucatan Peninsula of Central America, which includes five states of Mexico as well as parts of Belize and Guatemala.

Habitat:
Tropical deciduous and lowland evergreen forests as well as clearings and abandoned farm plots.

Size:
Males average 10-11 lbs. and have been recorded to 15lbs (compare to North American Wild Turkeys, the males of which often reach 20-25lbs.) Females generally weigh 8 lbs. before laying eggs and 6-7 lbs. the rest of the year.

Sexual dimorphism:
The males also have a fleshy blue crown covered with nodules, similar to those on the neck, behind the snood on the nose. During breeding season this crown swells up and becomes brighter and more pronounced in its yellow-orange color.
Males over one year old also have spurs on the legs that average 1.5 inches which lengths of over 2.5 inches being recorded.

Category Names (special names for the different sexes):
Males: Toms, Females: Hens. One year old males may be referred to as “Jakes”

Dietary Classification: Omnivorous

Diet in Zoo: A mixed diet of grain, kale, sweet potato, watermelon, cantaloupe and grapes as well as meal worms and wax worms. Keepers say that melon and worms are the favorites.
Diet in Wild: A wide variety of seeds, nuts, berries, insects, grubs, buds and leaves. Small vertebrates probably make up an incidental part of the diet.

Reproduction:
Breeding season/period: Generally May-July. The increase in daylight triggers hormonal changes.
The males do not gobble per se, but rather emit a call that begins as a number of low notes and increases in pitch, volume and cadence until it finishes in a crescendo of high pitched yelps – generally heard around sunrise. The females respond with a series of clucks.

Breeding habits/Gestation/Incubation:
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, meaning they are able to leave the nest after one night. They then follow their mother until they reach young adulthood when they begin to range apart, though family groups often roost at night together.

Activity Period:
Diurnal. Most active early and late in the day (crepuscular).

Behavior/Adaptations:
Like their more familiar counterparts, Ocellated Turkeys prefer to spend most of their time on the ground and would rather run than fly, though they can fly powerfully for short distances. They roost in trees at night to escape predation.

Relatives:
The familiar various subspecies of Wild Turkey in North America are the closest relatives.

Predators:
Primarily jaguars, ocelots, jaguarondi and other small cats. Feral dogs are an issue near villages. Eggs and chicks are vulnerable to a host of dangers, including both wild and domestic pigs, foxes and snakes.

Conservation Status:
Near Threatened, and decreasing. Large scale timbering operations followed by slash and burn agriculture in Central America threatens the habitat of the Ocellated Turkey.