This bird stands out with its distinctive traits, such as the orange nodules on its head, a copper-colored panel adorning its wings, and eyespots that sparkle in blue and gold shades. These distinct features come together to create a remarkable and unparalleled creature.
The ocellated turkey is an extraordinary and striking bird that belongs to the turkey family. Unlike the typical Thanksgiving turkey, this species possesses a tropical charm that is truly captivating to witness. When observing a male ocellated turkey perform its mating dance, it feels like looking at a wild turkey through a vibrant and colorful kaleidoscope. The turkey’s head is a delightful shade of baby blue and has red and orange nodules. Its metallic body feathers shimmer in various shades of electric blue and green, which become even more vivid on the wings, adorned with bronzy orange and white bands. The bird’s stunning tail feathers resemble the grand plumes of a peacock, hence its Spanish name “pavo real,” meaning royal turkey or peacock. During the breeding season, the male ocellated turkey’s fleshy blue crown, covered with nodules akin to those behind the snood on the neck, swells up and becomes brighter, showcasing a more pronounced yellow-orange hue.
The Ocellated Turkey, whether male or female, boasts beautiful bronze-green feathers that shimmer in the light. However, the males have a more striking appearance. In terms of size, they are smaller than North American wild turkey subspecies, with adult females weighing approximately eight pounds prior to laying eggs.
The Ocellated Turkey’s habitat is smaller than its northern counterpart. It can only be found in a tiny area of approximately 50,000 square miles, which covers the Yucatán Peninsula range. This area encompasses Quintana Roo, Campeche, and Yucatan states, as well as some parts of northeastern Chiapas and southern Tabasco.
This bird likes to hide in lush foliage, despite its bright and eye-catching feathers.
The Ocellated turkey is a sociable bird that enjoys being in small groups while it looks for food under thick vegetation in wooded and shrubby areas. Although it may occasionally venture into open areas and adjacent farmland, it prefers to stay in densely covered areas. Its diet consists of seeds, berries, insects, and foliage.
Ocellated Turkeys are fascinating creatures that lay a moderate-sized batch of 8 to 15 eggs in a well-hidden nest on the ground. After an incubation period of approximately 28 days, the precocious little ones emerge and can relocate from their nesting spot after just one night. They then follow their mother around until they reach young adulthood, at which point they begin to explore on their own but still regroup with their family at night. It’s interesting to note that male Ocellated Turkeys make the same “Gobbling” noise as their northern counterparts during breeding season, while female birds produce a distinct “clucking” sound.
It’s unfortunate that the ocellated turkey’s natural habitat is in danger because of widespread logging and traditional farming practices in Central America. This destruction is occurring rapidly and could potentially lead to the extinction of this beautiful bird species.
Take a moment to watch the turkey featured in this video which is available for your enjoyment.