Wild Turkey Beards

Humans aren’t the only ones in the woods with beards. Wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) have them, too!

The beard on a turkey is made not of hair but of  modified feathers that form a bristly collection that protrudes from the middle of the bird’s breast. Beards grow throughout the lifetime of the birds (usually about 3-5 years), averaging about 4 inches (100 mm) per year. Adult toms often sport beards that are between 8 and 12 inches (200-300 mm) long. 

The ends are continually worn away as the beards drag along the ground while the birds forage for acorns, nuts, roots, seeds and insects.  Some turkey hens can have beards, too.  <mm>

(via: Shenandoah National Park)


GOOD NEWS?:  Mining Deemed Threat to Sage-Grouse; Millions of Acres Withdrawn

by Dani Dagan

In September 2015 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided to refrain from listing the greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) under the Endangered Species Act. 

The decision was based in part on the finalization of federal plans which aim to protect about 50 million acres of sage-grouse habitat across 10 states. This effort to conserve the species without listing it was hailed as a conservation success by some, and roused suspicion in others.

The Bureau of Land Management is in the process of finalizing land management plans to help conserve the sage-grouse. Over 5,000 comments were received regarding a 10-million-acre withdrawal from mining claims on BLM and Forest Service lands, which are deemed important primary habitat for greater sage-grouse under the federal plans.

Responses to the proposed withdrawal have greatly varied. Some groups believe this 10-million-acre withdrawal is not enough to adequately protect sage-grouse habitat. A coalition of 80 organizations sent a letter asking that the withdrawal be extended to include roughly 35 million acres…

(read more: Wilderness Society)

photographs via: Bureau of Land Management


ABC Birds:  Blue-billed Currasow

It might look like a curly-headed turkey, but it’s a rare one. Only 250 to 500 birds now exist, primarily in a single site in Colombia.

This species is one of the birds closest to extinction in the Americas. It belongs to a group of large, ground-dwelling tropical birds that are closely related to turkeys.

Some say the birds are just as tasty as domestic turkeys, and unfortunately, harvesting the birds and eggs for food is an ongoing problem…

(read more: American Bird Conservancy)

photos: Fundacion ProAves and Greg Gough/National Zoo