Monday, March 12, 2012

Wild Turkeys - Toms and Bearded Hens

My yard has been turned into a Wild Turkey display area.  The yard is large enough for the toms to spread out, but they all stay in a bunch and display together.

I’ve been watching to see if the toms interact any differently with the bearded hens.  So far, it seems that the beards don’t make any difference.

This hen has a decided kink to her beard which makes her easy to identify. 

It’s usually easier to see the beard in profile. 

I’ve been trying to get the two bearded hens together in the same shot.  I was happy to get this shot, but as soon as it was taken, I noticed a third bearded hen farther out in the yard.

The toms continually move up on the hens and the hens are constantly moving away.  That makes it somewhat difficult to get a shot of them standing still.

Out of 23 hens in the yard, three had beards.  That seems a rather high percentage.  It took quite a while for the three with beards to group together and stand with their beards exposed.

The two hens on the right and the one in the lower left all have beards.  That confirms three with beards, but I’m not sure that’s all there are.  Another hen came to the yard later in the day in the company of five others and she carried a small wispy beard unlike any displayed here.  I wonder if my flock is trending toward all beards.

Turkeys wander in and out of the yard all day.  Group size varies, so I’m not sure of the total number that I’m dealing with.  The phenomenon of bearded hens must be of interest to a lot of people.  I get several blog visitors each week who arrive because of a search for bearded hens.  I hope they enjoy these latest shots.


  1. The high percentage of bearded hens is perhaps causedby your farm being a sanctuary that has no hunting pressure, and the predators are not as numerous because you are active in the area keeping your scent around makes it an uneasy area for predation , this perhaps may keep the same genetic base of turkeys onsite thats my guess. They sure are pretty and taste good too.

  2. And I was so pleased with my one Tom that I devoted my most recent just to him! What a great looking flock you have. I have seen a couple of bearded hens around here too.

  3. Hi Mike. It would be nice if Blue Jay Barrens was large enough to contain a Wild Turkey flock, but the reality is that these birds only spend a small amount of time here. I also seem to have my fair share of predators living here. Most of the predator species in this area seem tolerant of human activity within their territory.

    Hi Wilma. I saw your turkey post. My seed is on the ground, so they don't have to stretch like your guy does.