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Manu Minute: The transforming turkey

Ann Tanimoto-Johnson Wild turkey, AMT_8118.JPG
Ann Tanimoto-Johnson
Wild turkeys have iridescent black-brown plumage. Wild turkeys mostly eat tender green plant shoots, as well as various seeds, fruits, grain, and insects. They tend to roam in disturbed grasslands and woodlands, so they are less likely to spread invasive species than other game-birds like Kalij pheasants.

Don't underestimate wild turkeys. They're basically transformers.

Much of a turkey's mass is made up of feathers (roughly 3,500 of them). But a turkey's head is the real marvel. Comprised of a snood, a wattle, caruncles (all real words), and a beard, the coloration of a wild turkey's head is a gradient of blues and reds. But its exact color can change depending on the bird's "mood."

Not only are they transformers. Turkeys are dinosaurs. Listen to today's Manu Minute to learn more about the prehistoric origins of wild turkeys.

AMTJ_Wild turkey Spectrogram video.mp4

Patrick Hart is the host of HPR's Manu Minute. He runs the Listening Observatory for Hawaiian Ecosystems (LOHE) Lab at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.
Ann Tanimoto-Johnson is the Lab Manager & Research Technician in the Hart Lab/Listening Observatory for Hawaiian Ecosystems (LOHE) Bioacoustics Lab. She researches the ecology, bioacoustics, and conservation of our native Hawaiian forests, birds, and bats.
Savannah Harriman-Pote is a producer for The Conversation and Manu Minute. Contact her at
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