The strutting display of ocellated turkeys is referred to as dancing by the people of Central America.
The ocellated turkey’s display differs in several ways from the ocellated turkey’s North American cousins.
Before an ocellated gobbler goes into a strut, the tail feathers are held horizontal to the ground and moved from side to side, similar to a dog wagging it’s tail. After the tail wagging, the tail fan is spread, but the head and neck are held back toward the tail fan and pressed down onto the back, rather than tucked back against the breast as in North American wild turkeys. While in strut, the wings are lowered and drag the ground as seen in other turkeys, but the ocellated gobbler also moves one wing rapidly back and forth in a vibrating motion. This part of the strut is done when hens are nearby and the gobbler continues the strut and wing vibration as he attempts to circle the hen(s), making smaller and smaller circles until the hen leaves, or she squats allowing the gobbler to tread on her back and breed. Gobbling often occurs in mid-strut, especially if several hens are in view. During the gobble, the head and neck are elevated straight up over the back rather than projected forward. Gobbling can occur without the bird coming out of strut.
With all this movement, it is easy to see why strutting is referred to as “dancing” by the people of Central America.
• Image | © Ereenegee, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY-NC 4.0)
• Sources | (Taylor, Quigley, & Gonzalez, 2002; Weyer, 1983)