Thanksgiving’s Forgotten Turkey
The Ocellated Turkey (Meleagris ocellata) is the long-lost cousin of Thanksgiving’s famous Wild Turkey. Together, these two portly birds make up the entire turkey genus.
I know what you’re thinking. “Why have I never seen this curious creature before?” or perhaps, “Why haven’t I eaten it before?” Well, dear reader, unlike the Wild Turkey, the Ocellated Turkey is restricted to a mere 50,000sq.mi on the Yucatan Peninsula. Wild Turkeys, on the other hand, are found throughout the US and Mexico.
The Wild Turkey is also significantly larger (better eatin’) and not quite as pretty (you don’t feel as bad shooting them). So that could explain it too.
Anyway, the Ocellated Turkey, in most other aspects, is pretty much the same as the Wild Turkey. Both produce strange fleshy growths on their faces during the breeding season (orange and slightly disturbing in the Ocellated). They both lay about a dozen eggs that hatch into happy precocial chicks. And of course, both turkeys do in fact gobble. However, it was noted recently (by Branton and Berryhill, 2007) that the Ocellated’s gobble is not quite as gobbly as the Wild’s. They write:
…the male Ocellated Turkey does not gobble per se like the Wild Turkey. Rather, his song is distinct and includes some six to seven bongo-like bass tones which quicken in both cadence and volume until a crescendo is reached whereupon the bird’s head is fully erect while he issues forth a rather high-pitched but melodious series of chops.
I’m not gonna lie, I really wish I could describe a turkey gobble with as much bravado as Branton and Berryhill…
Make your own comparison. Take a listen below: