Turkey Facts: Wildly Different: Ocellated Wild Turkey
National Wild Turkey Federation
No Hi-Res photo available.
are only 2 species of turkey in the world; the North American wild turkey
(Meleagris gallopavo), divided into 5 distinct subspecies, and the ocellated
turkey (Meleagris ocellata). The ocellated turkey is known by several different
names that vary by Central American locale: pavo, pavo ocelado, or its
Mayan Indian name, ucutz il chican. Very little research has been done
on the ocellated and less is known about the ecology of this turkey than
any of the 5 subspecies of North American wild turkeys, including the Gould's.
The National Wild Turkey Federation, in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation
Society and Hornocker Wildlife Institute, helped sponsor the first research
project to trap and place radio transmitters on ocellated turkeys in Guatemala
in 1993. Much of the information provided in this bulletin is a result
of this NWTF-sponsored study.
ocellated turkey exists only in a 50,000 square mile area comprised of
the Yucatán Peninsula range includes the states of Quintana Roo,
Campeche, Petén, and Yucatan, as well as parts of southern Tabasco
and northeastern Chiapas.
ocellated turkey is easily distinguished from its North American cousin
in appearance. The body feathers of both male and female birds have a bronze-green
iridescent color mixture, although females sometimes appear duller in color
with more green than bronze pigments. Unlike North American turkeys, breast
feathers of male and female ocellated turkeys do not differ and cannot
be used to determine sex. Neither male nor female birds have a beard.
feathers in both sexes are bluish-gray in color with a well defined, eye-shaped,
blue-bronze colored spot near the end followed by bright gold tip. The
tail feather spots are similar to those seen on peacock feathers which
led some scientists to once believe the ocellated was more related to peafowl
than turkeys. In fact, these spots helped give the ocellated its name,
as the Latin word for eye is oculus.
upper, major secondary wing coverts, or wing bar, are a rich copper color
and highly iridescent. The barring on primary and secondary wing feathers
is similar to North American turkeys, but the secondaries contain more
white coloration, especially on the outer edges.
sexes have a blue-colored head and neck with distinctive orange to red,
warty, caruncle-like growths, called nodules, but they are more pronounced
on males. The head of the male also has a fleshy blue crown behind the
snood which is adorned with yellow-orange nodules similar to those on the
neck. During breeding season, this crown enlarges and the coloration of
the nodules becomes more pronounced. Ocellated turkeys also have a distinct
eye-ring of bright red colored skin, especially visible on adult males
during the breeding season.
of ocellated turkeys are shorter and thinner than North American wild turkeys
and are deep red in color. Legs of adult males also have pronounced spurs;
longer and more attenuated than those of North American gobblers. Spur
lengths in males over 1 year old average at least 1.5 inches. Spurs longer
than 2 inches have been recorded.
turkeys are significantly smaller than any of the 5 subspecies of North
American wild turkeys. Adult hens weigh approximately 8 pounds just prior
to egg-laying and nesting and about 6-7 pounds the remainder of the year.
During the breeding season adult males weigh approximately 11-12 pounds.
to Wild Turkey Tom Page