Barcode of Wildlife Mexico - Barcode of Wildlife Project: Guajolote ocelata: Meleagris ocellata

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Note By: María G. Velarde AguilarWhen we hear about turkeys or turkeys, we usually come to mind the image of the northern turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), that brownish-gray bird that has a long tradition of domestication and commercialization worldwide.

But it turns out that to the south of our country there is another species called turkey ocellated (Meleagris ocellata) that has totally different colors to the northern turkey , because it turns out that the males have the feathers of their bodies with a mixture of bronze color with iridescent green; the legs are reddish with long spurs; the head and neck are naked with a bright blue skin color and orange warts (nodules), plus a crown type with nodules similar to the neck, which in the time of mating widens and becomes brighter with more pronounced shades of orange-yellow. Females are similar to males but are smaller, with more opaque colors and lack warts on the head, as well as spurs.

The tails are blue-gray with a blue-gray circle in the shape of an eye, with a spot near the tip and at the end a bright golden tip. These spots of the tail are the cause of their common name, since ocelated comes from the Latin ocellata ​​i> meaning eyes. These tails remind us of the tails of the peacock, which has led some scientists to believe that it is more related to this species than to the northern turkey. During the mating season the males unfold their tails in fan form to seduce the females and emit a faint cluck. These sounds only make them during this time, the rest of the year they are very silent to avoid that their showy plumages give them before the predators.

Meleagris ocellata ​​i> spends most of the time on the ground and although it can fly very fast for short distances, it prefers to run than to fly when it feels threatened. They also sleep in groups at the top of the trees to get away from predators.

The normal clutch is 8 to 15 opaque eggs dotted with brown. Incubation lasts 28-30 days and only females are involved in incubating and caring for the offspring and help each other to care for the chicks, even those that lost the clutch. The chicks are opaque and can camouflage with the medium, leave the nest very fast, even the day after they are born, then follow their mother until reaching maturity.

The ocellated turkey forms flocks of different composition depending on the time of the year, so that females with young males, both young and adult males, and also adult males are solitary females, and at the time of reproduction the adult males are solitary and only approach females flocks to mate. Only the dominant male reproduces with the females of a flock, so many males fail to reproduce.

This species is used as a hunting trophy, food and feathers serve as ornament. It is currently considered as rare, and only common in protected areas. Due to the loss of habitat, hunting pressure and restricted area of ​​distribution is considered a species threatened by NOM-059-SEMARNAT-2001. The IUCN list as closely threatened (NT) and CITES considers the populations of Guatemala in Appendix III.

National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO). NaturaLista: Guajolote ocelated: Meleagris ocellata. Consultation: March 9, 2015.

Barcode of Wildlife Mexico - Barcode of Wildlife Project: Guajolote ocelata: Meleagris ocellata

Secretary of Urban Development and Environment (SEDUMA). 2015. Technical data of representative fauna of the UMAS of Yucatán: Meleagris ocellata.

Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources and Fisheries (SEMARNAT). 2009.

1, 3. David Creswell CC By-NC-SA 2.0

Debrup Chakraborty

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