The Turkey’s Snood Knows

twoturkeys long snoodWhat is the purpose of a wild turkey’s snood?

According to research done by University of Mississippi Dr. Richard Buchholz

In addition to uncovering a non-sexual function for the brightly colored, bare head of the male wild turkey (which is crucial for maintaining sub-lethal body temperatures under warm ambient conditions and during physical exertion), my work also demonstrated that one aspect of male head ornamentation, the frontal process, or snood is subject to both inter-sexual and intrasexual selection. Captive female wild turkeys prefer to mate with long snooded males, and during dyadic interactions, male turkeys deferred to males with relatively longer snoods. These results were demonstrated using both live males and controlled artificial models of males.

So according to Dr Buchholz research the hens prefer a long snood on their gobbler. But what is the genetic advantage of a long snood?

Dr Buchholz continues

in the wild the long snooded males preferred by females and avoided by males seemed to be resistant to coccidia infection.

Very interesting I will be following the Doctor’s research.

As a hunter I have noticed all turkeys snoods vary in length depending on their general state of alert or alarm.

When a turkey is relaxed and unalarmed their snood is longer.

long snood

As a turkey becomes more alert to something out of place the snood begins to shorten.

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They alarmed the turkey becomes the shorter the snood becomes.

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Snood length gives the hunter an indication of the turkey’s mood or agitation.  When the snood shortens you must make the decision- shoot or not shoot.  Should the shot not be good you must be very still and quiet for any hope of the turkey settling back down.  Most of the time a turkey who has suddenly shortened his snood is getting ready to leave the area.

 

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