Ocellated Turkey (Meleagris ocellata)
….the only other species of extant turkey alive today (Australian brush turkeys are not “true” turkeys or closely related). Ocellated turkeys occur in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico and parts of Belize and Guatemala. They typically inhabit tropical deciduous and lowland evergreen forests, they are also found in seasonally flooded habitat and open areas, especially during the breeding season. During the breeding season (in spring), ocellated turkeys are often seen in clearings where males will gobble and strut to attract females. Breeding will take place from late March to mid-April and around 12 eggs are typically laid.
Like their North American cousins M. ocellata are generalists and will eat a wide variety of plant materials, insects, nuts, berries and seeds. However, chicks will feed solely on insects for their fist month. Ocellated turkeys are similar in appearance to M. gallopavo but they differ in that they have a striking iridescent green color and they lack the ‘beard’ found in wild turkeys. They are also significant smaller than their northern cousins. True to their common name their tail feathers possess ocelli (eyespots) like those found on peafowl.
Currently Meleagris ocellata is listed as Near Threatened and faces threats due to hunting and habitat destruction.
Images: Jim MCormac and Chris Chafer