Ocellated turkeys were valued for Mayan ceremonial banquets and are still eaten by locals today
As showy as they are, ocellated turkeys were – and are still—eaten by locals today. The Mexican state of Campeche on the Yucatan Peninsula is economically poor, so locals hunt the birds to feed the family.
The Maya valued ocellated turkeys for ceremonial banquets. Occupants of the palace at Mayapan, occupied for centuries before Europeans arrived, ate enough of them that 70% of the identifiable bones excavated from the site were from ocellated turkeys. On the island of Cozumel, where the Spanish and the Maya first met, both ocellated and domesticated turkeys were eaten.