Is it a peacock? Is it a turkey?
Another in the occasional series of gorgeous creatures: the ocellated turkey 🙂
Image credit: backyardchickens.com
Over on Tetrapod Zoology, Darren Naish provides the detailed story of this species' biology & evolution.
Apparently they are difficult creatures to keep in captivity, so they won't be appearing on the Christmas menu any time soon. They're native to an area of about 130,000 square km across northern Belize, northern Guatemala, and the Yucatan peninsula.
When I first saw an image of this stunning bird (on FB, as one might expect) I thought I was looking at the male of a strongly dimorphic species. However, it turns out that both sexes share this spectacular colour pattern, although the colours may be somewhat muted in females. They're easier to distinguish in the breeding season, because the red & yellow lumps, or nodules, that dot the head & neck swell in males & become even more brightly coloured.
Most conservationists consider it near-threatened, with deforestation making the birds easier to kill by local subsistence hunters, a major factor in the species’ decline.
The North American wild turkey got pushed close to the brink of extinction in New York state & has since bounced back due to careful management of the population and it's habitat, so there's hope for its gorgeous cousin if suitable conservation mechanisms can be identified & put in place.