Ocellated Turkey

Meleagris ocellata

WEIGHT Male 10-12 pounds; Female 6-7 pounds
LENGTH (bill to tail) 36-48 inches

The Ocellated Turkey is the most colorful of all the turkey species, frequently compared to a peacock. Its most striking feature are the rounded, bluish-gray tail feathers that have "eyes." The eye spots are a bronzy-green to bluish-purple and the tip of the tail feathers have bright, golden-yellow tips.

The body feathers have a metallic bronze-green and dark-brown sheen with black barring. The female Ocellated Turkey is duller than the male tending toward more green than bronze.

Both sexes have blue, featherless heads and long necks. It has a wart-like appendage over its bill named a caruncle. The male caruncle is larger than the females. The head and neck is covered with red and white wart-like growths. Its eye is bordered by red-colored skin.

The Ocellated Turkey is smaller than other North American turkeys. Its sound is unlike other turkeys and difficult to describe. The dark-red colored legs are shorter and thinner than other turkeys. The male has long spurs. Unlike other North American turkeys, the Ocellated Turkey does not have a beard.

The Ocellated Turkey lives in heavy, subtropical jungle and ventures out onto corn fields that are encroaching into its habitat. It eats fruits, insects, vegetation and seeds. Flocks of turkeys roosts in trees but nest on the ground. It is a strong and fast flier for short distances.

Exclusively the Yucatan peninsula in the countries of Mexico, Guatemala and northern Belize. It is the only turkey south of the Sierra Madre Mountains.