Tag Archives: kin selection

Toms Come Courting




This year’s tall feed provides good cover for nesting hen turkeys, popping up out of the grass along the road as Joe and I approached them Easter Sunday. Whether the hens were leaving because we spooked them, or leading us away from their nests, was hard to tell as they chose the road ahead, unfettered by thick grass, to leave by.

It wasn’t long before we found two toms making their rounds of the area, fanning and strutting before a small crowd of cows at rest in the shade. American wild turkeys employ cooperative courtship during mating season to better attract the females, and according to a UC Berkeley study in 2005, select a close relative, a brother or half-brother, as a running mate to insure their genetics.

All this time I assumed the toms were competing for the favor of the hens. Furthermore, my Google research found instances where mating season has literally stopped traffic in Berkeley and where courting toms have actually attacked humans. Little did I suspect that the resurgence in the wild turkey’s population would be staged on city streets.