Turkey Poult Parade

In our last post I mentioned that wild Turkey hens brood in April and their clutch hatches in May. At that point we were in anticipation of “Tessie” having poults in tow real soon and we asked you to stay tuned… Well guess what? Tessie has about six poults parading behind her now.
In this video you will see the well-camouflaged Tessie hiding under some low-hanging tree branches mid-frame. Then, at about 14 seconds in to the video you will see a few poults darting from the lower, left-hand corner into the middle part of the frame. You have to look real close to spot them. In fact, you may have to play the video a few times to catch a quick glimpse of the poults and watch as they disappear in the underbrush but still stir the plants in their path.
It is well known that hens will peel off from the flock and isolate themselves to brood and care for their young. Experts say this happens so she can hide her brood from predators more easily than with a large flock of adults.
Shortly after hatching, the poults will begin darting about, as they are both precocial (relatively mature at hatching) and nidifugous – that is ready to leave the nest shortly after hatching. In fact, wild turkey poults will leave the nest within a day and begin foraging. Similarly, killdeer birds are both precocial and nidifugous (We have posted photos on this a few years ago). Compare this to altricial species whose young are not well developed at hatching and have to stay in the nest for a time to mature and grow before venturing out. This is true of sparrows, swallows, owls, and most nesting birds.
The word “precocial” may sound similar to the word “precocious,” as they both derive from the same Latin root words: Prea [before] and Coquere [to cook] – that is Praecoquere [ripen fully]. In the mid 17thy century, we added the [-ious] on the end making for “before fully cooked-ish.” Kind of. Anyway, in humans, we cite precociousness in a youth having developed abilities much earlier than would otherwise be normal. Do you recall how Mary Poppins sang to her charges that if they sang supercalifragilisticexpialidocious loud enough they’d always sound precocious?

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