The Turkey Snood

Threat from another turkey brother?

Take care, beware and stare at my snood if you dare!

Turkeys are unique: I cannot think of any other creature on this planet with a dangling piece of flesh that: changes colors, shrinks or lengthens depending upon stimuli of anger or excitement.

From Wikipedia:

"the snood is an erectile, fleshy protuberance on the forehead of turkeys. Most of the time when the turkey is in a relaxed state, the snood is pale and 2-3 cm long. However, when the male begins strutting (the courtship display), the snood engorges with blood, becomes redder and elongates several centimeters, hanging well below the beak"

"The snood functions in both intersexual and intrasexual selection. Captive female wild turkeys prefer to mate with long-snooded males, and during dyadic interactions, male turkeys defer to males with relatively longer snoods. These results were demonstrated using both live males and controlled artificial models of males"

Actually, I have my doubts about that entire second Wikipedia paragraph. I suppose some test some where had those results however....

Common sense and my observation shows the male turkeys defer to and female turkeys swoon to-- the current reigning flock Alpha male. (Alpha male status is always tenuous)

Fighting skills: 99.92% determines whom the hens swoon for. My observation is that Snood length plays an infinitesimal small part in the reproductive process.

Yet, there is a natural selection process at work --- a selection that allows the Snood to grow and contract as needed, despite the beatings the snoods take during battle.

A dangling snood is a liability.  

Evidently at least some of the hens prefer a long snood. 

Turkey hens also have snoods-smaller versions of the male snood.

Hen snood injury

And..... A dangling snood, be it a tom or hen is still a liability.

This hen lost her fight for female alpha status and the hen that bested her had clamped down on her snood making it black and blue. Full snood recovery.

Snood in battle......a thing hanging the way...

Flying snoods!

And finally a photo of a snood at night. No outside stimulus to make the snood grow.

And now for a Quick story. I have mentioned the dangling snood is a liability.

I came home one day to find my Eastern wild Tom, with his snood swollen to the size of a banana and his bumpy head twice the normal size. What the heck?

Upon close examination, I discovered fang marks in the "banana" where a pigmy rattlesnake (Sistrurus millarius) had bitten the snood. The Tom was sick for about two weeks, made a full recovery, however his snood was always crooked after that. He lived for another five years. (no photos of that two weeks)

Florida snakes

Odd bit of information: The Ocellated turkey has a blue snood, instead of the normal red.



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