This Turkey Tuesday is about how wild turkeys deal with wet weather – I’m not sure where you live, but in my neck of the woods, it seems like it’s been raining forever! Turkeys use various behaviors to overcome effects of wet weather. First, birds will often move to open areas within their home ranges where air movement allows rapid drying of feathers – this behavior seems to be more pronounced in the densely forested areas used by Easterns, but it’s common for all of the subspecies. Second, you’ll see birds shaking excess water off of themselves frequently, and that water sheds so easily from their feathers because they preen. Preening involves birds using their bills to spread secretions from the uropygial gland at the base of the tail, which provides weatherproofing and allows the feathers to shed water. One of the most stunning aspects of wild turkeys is the iridescence and beauty in their feathers – well, wet weather certainly undermines that beauty as you can see with the tom in this picture! So, weather proofing feathers and dealing with wet weather takes on new meaning as the breeding season approaches. The take home is, wild turkeys have ways of dealing with the wet weather that often plagues us during this time of year, so they keep themselves weatherproof and usually looking their best as breeding season approaches. This tom simply decided that strutting was too important to deal with the wet feathers!
Picture © Tes Randle Jolly