The Turkey Snood


Threat from another turkey brother?

Take care, beware and stare at my snood if you dare!

Turkeys are unique: I cannot think of any other creature on this planet with a dangling piece of flesh that: changes colors, shrinks or lengthens depending upon stimuli of anger or excitement.

From Wikipedia:

“the snood is an erectile, fleshy protuberance on the forehead of turkeys. Most of the time when the turkey is in a relaxed state, the snood is pale and 2-3 cm long. However, when the male begins strutting (the courtship display), the snood engorges with blood, becomes redder and elongates several centimeters, hanging well below the beak”

“The snood functions in both intersexual and intrasexual selection. Captive female wild turkeys prefer to mate with long-snooded males, and during dyadic interactions, male turkeys defer to males with relatively longer snoods. These results were demonstrated using both live males and controlled artificial models of males”

Actually, I have my doubts about that entire second Wikipedia paragraph. I suppose some test some where had those results however….

Common sense and my observation shows the male turkeys defer to- and female turkeys swoon to- the current reigning flock Alpha male. (Alpha male status is always tenuous)

Fighting skills: 99.92% determines whom the hens swoon for. My observation is that Snood length plays an infinitesimal small part in the reproductive process.

Yet, there is a natural selection process at work.

Evidently at least some of the hens prefer a long snood. – a selection that allows the Snood to grow and contract as needed, despite the beatings the snoods take during battle.

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A dangling snood is a liability.

Turkey hens also have snoods-smaller versions of the male snood.

Hen snood injury from fighting

And….. A dangling snood, be it a tom or hen is still a liability.

This hen lost her fight for female alpha status and the hen that bested her had clamped down on her snood making it black and blue. Full snood recovery.

Could the snood be a remnant of the age of Dinosaurs?

Latest Study Anseriformes and Galliformes (above) originated in the late Cretaceous

Snood in battle……a thing hanging the way…

Flying snoods!

“Talkin to me?”

Photo of a snood at night. No outside stimulus to make the snood grow.

(Snoods have to rest)

Snood at Florida dawn

And now for a Quick story. I have mentioned the dangling snood is a liability.

I came home one day to find my Eastern wild Tom, with his snood swollen to the size of a banana and his bumpy head twice the normal size. What the heck?

Upon close examination, I discovered fang marks in the “banana” where a pigmy rattlesnake (Sistrurus millarius) had bitten the snood. The Tom was sick for about two weeks, made a full recovery, however his snood was always crooked after that. He lived for another five years. (no photos of that two weeks)

Florida snakes

Odd bit of information: The Ocellated turkey has a blue snood, instead of the normal red.

As the annual December turkey battles heat up, this Royal Palm Tom has his own snood in his mouth, crunching down causing excruciating pain to his rival.

Or something like that..

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Video clip of “Turkey Rebellion against Thanksgiving” and snoods in the way!

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>