Technicolor Turkeys

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Ocellated Turkey. Photo: Ray Wilson/Alamy

Those of us fortunate to have worked in Belize a couple years ago still talk about this very thing–of all the birds to be amazed by, how surprising that these turkeys could be the most exciting, even while abundant where we worked and ever-visible. Mindful of tomorrow’s holiday when the other turkey is more talked about, my thanks to Jessica Leber for this essay in Audubon Magazine:

The Wild Blue Turkey That Blew My Mind

Appreciating the avian diversity that’s there to astound us—if only we look.

There are only two species of turkey in the world, and we’re all familiar with one: the Wild Turkey. A magnificent bird first domesticated by the Aztecs and later again by Native Americans, its farm-bred form will fill our Thanksgiving plates this November, while wild flocks continue their decades-long recovery from overhunting and habitat loss across the eastern United States.

Let’s first take a minute to appreciate the Wild Turkey’s comeback, or perhaps even savor its sweet revenge as the birds apparently terrorize growing swaths of suburbia.

Now, let’s move on, because I really want to talk about the other turkey species: the Ocellated Turkey. It’s understandable if you’re not familiar with this trippy, technicolor Wild Turkey relative. It only lives in a small part of Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala. I also hadn’t heard of it when I started my new job at Audubon magazine around Thanksgiving a year ago. …

Read the whole essay here.

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