Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Turkey Work of Art

That's how I feel about turkeys lately, works of art parading through my yard.
Certainly not the prettiest art by some standards, unless you're a turkey, but definitely faces with character, prehistoric character.    Everyone of them is uniquely decorated with expression and with those curious skin enhancements, especially the sub-adult males in the "jake" stage.
Jake is a new term for me (an immature tom), along with snood, caruncles and dewlap, all descriptive terms for various parts of the turkey anatomy, that I discovered while researching the difference between young and mature, male and female.  I found a nice anatomy reference on the Wild Turkey Federation's website (link below).
In general females have feathers on their heads while males do not.  The males develop a bald head that appears whitish in the mature tom, with reddish skin enhancements that increase as they mature.  The major caruncles extend down their neck and these folds of skin become bright red and engorged with blood while courting.  Females have some skin enhancements also, but they are generally smaller and bluish making her overall appearance camouflaged while incubating.
According to my Atlas of the Breeding Birds in Tennessee, males establish territories in late winter here and hold them throughout the spring with egg-laying peaking during the last two weeks of April.  I'm mostly seeing females and immature males.  It does make me wonder where male territories would be around this suburban area, with its pockets of agricultural fields and wooded ravines.
If I see a male displaying, you'll be the first to know.  That would definitely fall into my idea of art!
Visit the Wild Turkey Federation's anatomy page and run your cursor across the sketch to see terms used for various parts of the anatomy.
You may also want to visit my other Wild Turkey sketch pages at Vickie Henderson Art.

5 comments:

  1. Vickie these are really nice watercolors!

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  2. Your works of art are new to me Vickie. I am enjoying them very much.

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  3. What beautiful Turkey sketches Vickie! Such life and vibrancy! Love these and the great information.

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  4. Vickie, in knowing you nearly a year now via our passion for nature and photography, I have continued to be so touched by your ability to form your narrative into a lesson of beauty as well as the images you share and your watercolours. Wild Turkeys are great subjects and I think your renderings show their beauty that may otherwise have not been seen. BTW, I saw a wild turkey displaying his tail feathers along a two lane country road last year... Happy Easter, happy spring~

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  5. great research - isn't jake the perfect descriptive name for that delightful face? marge

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Welcome! I am glad to hear your comments, questions and feedback! Vickie

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