Band Of Brothers

Two male wild turkeys chase a police car in Moorhead, MN (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

28 November 2013

Chances are these turkeys are brothers, working together to chase the police out of their territory.

Wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) are very social birds whose flocks are often composed of siblings.  This arrangement starts young when they are poults and continues as adults.

Each sex within the flock develops a pecking order.  Literally.  Who has the right to peck someone else?  The ladies figure out the hierarchy and tend to leave it at that without a lot of jostling.  The guys, on the other hand, are always stirring things up.  Which of them is most dominant?  They fight about it.  In this case they’re fighting a police car.

Male turkeys are brothers in love and war.  A group of males strutting and displaying together are usually brothers, collaborating to attract the opposite sex.  One of them is dominant and will get to mate with the ladies.  His brothers display but won’t become fathers … unless they sneak some action on the side when their brother is not watching.

Don’t feel sorry for the lesser guys. Soon enough they’ll fight about it and a different male may achieve dominance in the band of brothers.

(photo from Wikimedia Commons of two male wild turkeys chasing a police car in Moorhead, Minnesota on April 29, 2013. Click on the caption to see the original.  Today’s Tenth Page is inspired by page 338 of Ornithology by Frank B. Gill.)

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