Skip to main content

Blast from the past: Ocellated Turkey

I was delighted to pick up my new issue of Winging It today, and see an article by Ohio's own Ashli Gorbet plastered across the front page. Winging It is the newsletter - "official!" - of the American Birding Association and as such, is probably the largest circulation birding info-sheet in the Americas.

Ashli, who was hatched in Westlake, Ohio, now hails from Albuquerque, New Mexico where she is secretary of the New Mexico Ornithological Society and works with the Rio Grande Bird Research, Inc. She's smitten with the tropics, and her Winging It article was all about birding in the tiny country of Belize, the northernmost Central American country. Belize is little more than 1/5th the size of Ohio, and its population is only 1/3rd that of my city, Columbus - about 330,000 people, the lowest population density of any Central American country.

A visit to Belize is high on my list, and I hope to finally make it there next year. Ashli's article mentioned some of the fabulous birds that can be found in exotic Belizean haunts, such as White-collared Manakin, Black-headed Trogon, and Keel-billed Toucan. Those birds are old friends from other tropical excursions, but I'd like to see them again, in addition to other possibilities that I haven't seen.

One of the species that Ashli mentions is this splendid glittering chunk of a beast, the Ocellated Turkey, Meleagris ocellata. I took this photo in 2010, in the country just to Belize's south, Guatemala. This is the other turkey; one of only two species in the genus Meleagris. Its sibling species is, of course, the Wild Turkey, M. gallopavo, which is so familiar to North American gringos. Ocellated Turkeys have a far more limited distribution, being found only on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and its immediate environs.

Here is a short video of a tom Ocellated Turkey "singing" as it pulls out all the stops to impress the hens at Tikal in Guatemala. It impressed your blogger.

In addition to Belize, another Central American trip you may find of interest is the Ohio Ornithological Society's upcoming expedition to Guatemala, March 4th thru 13th, 2012. You'll see the gaudy Ocellated Turkey and much more. All of the details are RIGHT HERE.

Congrats to Ashli on a fine article, and I'm sure I'm not the only one she's inspired to jet south to Belize.


Vincent Lucas said…
I also saw my lifer Ocellated Turkey at Tikal in 1993. After birding all over Belize, we drove the 40-mile "road from hell" from San Ignacio on the western Belizean border to Tikal in Guatemala. At that time, there was still a border dispute between the two countries so it was a bit unnerving to cross the border driving. Seeing Ocellated Turkey among the ancient Mayan ruins of Tikal was surreal as I'm sure you will agree Jim, since you have been there. Go to Belize, You won't regret it but much has changed in that country since I was there in 1993.

Popular posts from this blog

The Pinching Beetle, a rather brutish looking bug

The world is awash in beetles, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Few of them can match the intimidation factor of a Pinching Beetle, Lucanus capreolus, though. Those formidable looking mandibles look like they could slice off a finger.

Today was one of those coolly diverse days. I started off down in Fayette County, visiting the farm of a friend. He has restored about 25 acres of wetlands, and the response by the animal community has been nothing short of phenomenal. Blizzards of dragonflies of many species, amphibians galore, and nesting Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, and Sora. Among MANY other things. And all in a short two years. Add water and they will come.

Then, working my way home, I ducked into a Madison County cemetery that has a thriving population of Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels, and shot images of our native prairie dog. Then, I stopped at a spot along Little Darby Creek, waded on in, and procured some pretty nice shots of various stream bluets and dancers. …

Calliope Hummingbird in central Ohio!

A hatch-year male Calliope Hummingbird strikes a pose. Small but tough, the hummingbird was feeding actively yesterday in 39 F temperatures. It frequents feeders and gardens at a home in Delaware County, Ohio, about a half-hour north of Columbus.

Fortunately, the wayward hummer appeared at the home of Tania and Corey Perry. Tania is a birder, and knew right away that the hummingbird was something special. For a while, the identification was up in the air, which isn't surprising. The Calliope Hummingbird used to be placed in its own genus, Stellula, but has recently been submerged into the genus Selasphorus, which includes Allen's, Broad-tailed, and Rufous hummingbirds. The latter two, especially, are quite similar to the Calliope in subadult plumage. Rufous is the default "vagrant" hummingbird here, with dozens of records and birds turning up annually. There is but one Ohio record of Allen's Hummingbird, from late fall/early winter 2009. Ditto the Calliope Hummi…

Snowy owl photography tactics - and things NOT to do

A gorgeous juvenile female snowy owl briefly catches your narrator with its piercing gaze. It's doing its Linda Blair/Exorcist trick - twisting its head 180 degrees to look straight behind. Owls have 14 neck vertebrae - double our number - which allows them such flexibility.

These visitors from the high arctic have irrupted big time into Ohio and adjacent regions, with new birds coming to light nearly every day. Probably 80 or so have thus far been reported in the state, and some of them have stuck around favored spots and become local celebrities.

I went to visit one of these birds this morning - the animal above, which was found last Friday by Doug Overacker and Julie Karlson at C.J. Brown Reservoir near Springfield. In the four days since its discovery, many people have visited as is nearly always the case when one of these white wonders appears near a large population center or is otherwise very accessible.

And as is always the case, people want to photograph the owls. And th…