Friday, July 11, 2014

The Flintstone Chick

I am so excited to tell you all about the following bird and her family!  The first time I saw a bird like this, I thought, “That’s the wrong color.” 

I am going to share with you all about a special type of turkey (yes a turkey!) that has been becoming more and more popular with our visitors.  They are very beautiful birds that also have a cute-ugly factor to them.  In this article I will discuss the natural history and some personal facts about this species.

Fred (pictured above) is a fine example of a male Royal Palm Turkey (photo: Gay Schroer)

The bird’s  name is Wilma and she is a Royal Palm Turkey.  These turkeys originate from the wild turkey (Melegris gallopavo) and other turkeys I will mention later on.   These are a very special breed of turkey because of their plumage (feather color).  They are mostly white with black edging on the body, wing, and tail feathers.  These turkeys are not normally raised for food, but for exhibition (for show, either on personal farm property or for professional showing). 

Wilma was donated to the World Bird Sanctuary by Cathy E., one of our awesome volunteers!  Wilma is three years old this year and has become a mother!  She and her mate, Fred, are parents of seven adorable little chicks this year!  Below you can see the entire family!
Fred, Wilma & chicks (photo: Lisbeth Hodges)

These unique turkeys are native to North America.  The first Royal Palms to be discovered were in the 1920s at the farm of Enoch Carson of Lake Worth, Florida.  They were in a mixed flock with Black, Bronze, Wild, and Narragansett turkeys.  This type of coloration only appears in a small percentage from breeding different types of turkeys together. 

The females weigh from 10-12 pounds (4536-5443 grams) while males range from 16-22 pounds (7257-9979 grams).  Their diet consists of mainly grain, but they will also eat insects and vegetation when they encounter it in the wild.

Royal Palms are great foragers and very active (especially during breeding season).  The females will lay anywhere from five to nine eggs per clutch (group of eggs).  The eggs are large, cream to light brown, with spots present.  The female will protect the eggs and chicks more often than the male.  Below you can see Wilma sitting down with all the two week old chicks under her.  One, more adventurous than the others, is exploring around her.

Wilma is a shy bird around people, but she is a great mother who is always aware of her surroundings.  She is very gentle with her chicks.
Wilma, covering her chicks--all but the one adventurer! (photo: Lisbeth Hodges)

Wilma is available for adoption in our Adopt a Bird program.  To find out more information, call 636-861-3225.  All adoption donations are tax deductible.  She can be seen on the Exhibit Line, which is beyond the Kathryn G. Favre Wildlife Hospital.  The World Bird Sanctuary is open daily from 8am-5pm. 

Wilma is a very beautiful bird.  You should stop on by and see her and her family!

Submitted by Lisbeth Hodges, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

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