Thursday, November 24, 2011

Ocellated Turkey

Meleagris ocellata
Well, last year I covered the Wild Turkey, so it seems fitting that for this Thanksgiving I write about its lesser known relative, the Ocellated Turkey. Did you know that they are the only two Turkey species in the entire world?

I wouldn't blame you if you had never heard of this bird until today. They have a very limited range and are not well studied. Ocellated Turkeys are found exclusively on the Yucatan peninsula, in a range that covers only about 50,000 square miles. They live in tropical forests, but enter more open habitats during the breeding season.

If placed side by side, it would be easy to tell the Ocellated Turkey apart from the Wild Turkey. They are smaller in size, but they are much more fanciful in color, sporting bronze and iridescent green plumage (though the males are of course more vibrant than the females). The diet of the Ocellated Turkey is quite varied. They are omnivores that feed on seeds, berries, nuts, and insects.

The species is threatened due to hunting and habitat loss. They are most vulnerable during the breeding season, as the birds enter areas that are more open in order to perform courtship displays.

IUCN Status : Near Threatened
Location : Mexico
Size : Weight up to 12lbs (5.4kg)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Galliformes
Family : Meleagrididae -- Genus : Meleagris -- Species : M. ocellata

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