Ocellated Turkey

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Much more information is needed regarding the ecology of the ocellated turkey.

Population estimates of the ocellated turkey in parts of its range indicate a decline in numbers over the last 20 years, especially in Guatemala and parts of the southern Yucatán Peninsula where widespread logging and dry season burning eliminate habitat and destroy nests. Uncontrolled market hunting occurring primarily during March, April and May could seriously impact local populations.

More research on the ocellated turkey is being planned, including distribution and singing surveys in Guatemala and a distribution survey in the Yucatán of Mexico. Long-term studies, similar to an initial radiotelemetry project in Tikal National Park, should be implemented in areas where the birds are hunted for sport as well as for the market.

Information on habitat needs, population dynamics and management techniques is required to properly conserve this valuable resource. Large tasty birds in a small range where they are protected inadequately, if at all-the remaining ocellated turkeys are going to need a lot of help if they are to continue to survive, and so far that help has not been forthcoming, partly because these birds are so little known.

Sources: (Taylor, Quigley, & Gonzalez, 2002; Weyer, 1983)
Image: Nathan Rupert

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