Meet King Turkey
King Turkey and his second in command spend all day watching their flock of hens- as seen below. It is so interesting to watch how the two of them work together scanning the horizon. There are 7 hens in their group. When Thomas and Theo get near they are chased away, but in a very regal civilized manner. I have been so impressed watching all of the interractions, and the way these two giant males just watch over the hens, barely eating themselves, making sure that the girls are always being looked after, and bringing up the rear as they walk through the woods. They stand with a very regal air, fluffed up and looking huge, calmly looking after their hens. When Thomas & Theo appear, T&T know to keep their distance. If they get too close, King Turkey walks towards them until they skeddadle. Only rarely do the big males lash out.
Above are pictures of how the two males are always together, the second row of the small pictures shows then watching the surrounds as the hens peck away at yummies on the ground. To the right is a picture of their flock. There are 7 hens in all, below is a close up on one of them. You can tell the difference between males and females because the males have "beards" - hairs coming off their breasts, and all the red skin pomp. The little red skin flap on the male turkey's nose becomes erect sometimes- would love to know that that means??!
Only once they are all safe again in the woods, with the King & his second bringing up the rear, do the males stop to drink by the stream (the females already did, with the males watching. Can you see him there?) and display. This is really incredible to see, and as soon as I get a better camera I hope to post some better pictures. It is is really very wonderful watching King Turkey slowly and regally strut with his feathers up. Sometimes Second will do it at the same time. What lucky hens!!
Oh, and here are a few pictures of Tom approaching warily, and then going away as King Turkey calmly walks after him. Poor Thomas! But I suppose that one day Thomas & Theodore will take King Turkey & Second's place! If I go back to grad school I would love to study these wonderful creatures!