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Ferocity of Fights

This Turkey Tuesday is about the ferocity of fights that erupt between toms as spring approaches. Turkeys will posture to each other, strut, gobble, size each other up, and try to intimidate each other as they test dominance. However, when the hands-off approaches don’t work, sometimes push comes to shove, and then shove comes to an all-out brawl. Toms use several methods to fight, such as wing flailing where they hit each other with the leading edges of their wings. They also will jump on one another, head peck, and get into prolonged fights involving neck wrestling. In essence, they stand chest to chest and try to push each other around, attempting to gain an advantage while attacking the head. As they do that, one tom will wrap his neck around his foe’s, basically trying to impose his will and gain the upper hand with leverage. This wrestling and pushing can even result in a tom grabbing the head and/or neck of the other tom, like the tom in this picture. To me, this is the most fascinating form of fighting that turkeys use, because it takes time to gain that leverage, and since the head is involved, the ferocity seems particularly personal. Since toms recognize their foe based at least partially on his head, what better way to assert your dominance and solidify your advantage than to attack and subdue the head of your opponent? Has anyone been lucky enough to see toms neck wrestle and fight in this way?

Picture by Clayton Worrell

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