Monday, February 16, 2015

Wild Turkey Fight

It’s the middle of February and the male Wild Turkeys at Blue Jay Barrens are already displaying enhanced coloration as they prepare for the annual breeding season.  The male Wild Turkeys visited the feeder on Sunday afternoon.  Even though the day was sunny, the temperature was only 14oF.  This was not what I would consider spring-like weather, but one of the turkeys must have had spring in its heart as it attempted to do a little displaying on the feeding grounds.

Just like the stereotypic bar fight on TV, the showing off by one male instilled a spark of rivalry in another.  It began with some posturing and pushing on the part of the two Tom turkeys.

Then it erupted into full blown battle for dominance in the local flock.  In keeping with the pattern of a TV bar fight, a bystander seems oblivious to the brewing conflict.

Several techniques were used in the early stages of the fight.  Strong wing claps and hatchet kicks with the spurs topped the list.  Within minutes though, the pair locked bills and began pushing with their breasts.  This push type combat lasted for over 30 minutes.

One bird seems to swallow the top bill of the other, while its opponent appears to have engulfed the lower bill and part of the throat of the first.  It’s sometimes difficult to distinguish two different heads in the strange embrace.

There must be tremendous stress on the neck.  At times, one combatant’s head can be pushed down to meet its back.

There was an occasional break in the action lasting no more than a few seconds.  The two fighters always quickly regained their bill-to-bill grip and continued the struggle.  Over the course of the battle, the pair completely circled the house.

As quickly as it began, the action ended.

The bird in the foreground was the apparent victor.

The struggle seems to have sapped the strength of both combatants.

The defeated bird positioned itself in front of the victor.

Then it presented itself as subservient to the dominant flock member.

Surrender accepted, the pair headed back to the feeder.  I prepared a video of a portion of the fight that can be seen on YouTube by clicking on this LINK.  


  1. Fascinating! The females in the video certainly seem interested in staying close to the action!

  2. Hi, Furry Gnome. Those are all males. They are part of a group of nine that have been visiting the feeder all winter.

  3. Interesting piece of dominance display Steve.