Wednesday, November 23, 2011
|Wild turkey strutting his stuff in my woods on the 'turkey trail' April, 2010|
(note hen walking away)
photo by Jonathan Schechter
Wild turkeys share my woods and fields, or perhaps I should say I share theirs.
These well-adapted muscular creatures can run faster than a horse and take to flight in bursts of powerful wing beats. Flights are short but serve as as an escape from coyote and fox.
When I am stealthy (and lucky) I have spied turkeys roosting high up in trees near my swamp.
Come spring the woods are full of gobbling and Toms fanning their tail feathers and
struting their stuff in seductive attempts to lure in the willing and lovely hens. Nature dictates
some equally fit hens will readily accept the genes offered by a studly Tom while his elongated
and blood engorged snood dangles and wiggles while he dances sensually in the woods.
"Over here babe! Over here! Check me out!"
(A snood is a fleshy appendage on his head--lest you wonder!)
28 days after eggs are laid the little ones hatch from a hidden ground nest and the fittest survive.
That is nature's way.
That is way it should be.
And now for the rest of the story
(Rated R - But True)
The commercially bred Broad Breasted White Turkey (real name) you find frozen in a plastic
bag and take home to thaw and stuff is far removed in lifestyle from their colorful and
physically fit wild kin running free in the woodlands. These farm-factory monstrosities result
from man's tinkering with selective breeding. They are morbidly obese slobs of the bird world, so
fat and flabby and out of shape from their forced diet and confinement they can not fly. And they
are are so clumsy and unfit from unnatural selection they are incapable of sexual reproduction
the way nature intended:
"Hey honey, I'm sorry, I can't even stand up straight and strut, let alone anything else, and
by the way all of your flab is in the way too, so quit your gobblin. It ain't gonna happen."
That poses a science question for this naturalist to answer. How do domestic turkeys reproduce?
Two words: Artificial Insemination
And the goal is to creature turkeys with big tender juicy breasts.
Turkey sperm is collected by humans in a method you really do not want to read about in explicit
detail before your Thanksgiving feast . But here is how the Mereck Veterinary Manuel sums up
the collection procedure, "Collecting semen from a turkey is done by stimulating the copulatory
organ to protrude by massaging the abdomen and the back over the testes. This is followed
quickly by pushing the tail forward with one hand and, at the same time, using the thumb and forefinger of the same hand to “milk” semen from the ducts of this organ." I want to think the
Tom turkeys do not line up and gobble, "Me next! Me Next!" After collection a device much like
a turkey baster is loaded with sperm and without any romancing, tender touching or sweet
gobbling is squirted into the not so willing females to produce a new
generation of big bossomed hens to await their time at the next Thanksgiving feast.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!