Sunday, March 28, 2010

Crafty turkeys

Chickens and turkeys think about their nesting sights differently.

In the picture above, both the chickens and turkeys have decided that this is a good spot to lay eggs. The chickens have laid the clutch of eggs you can see, but if you look in the upper left hand corner, you can see the turkey egg. The chickens don't take near the time and effort to hide their eggs that the turkeys do.

Here, a turkey hen has chosen another laying spot, and has actually scratched some grass and other debris over her egg to cover it after laying. They'll consistently do that, and the chickens won't.

The other behavior that the turkey hens will do that the chickens will not is that they will select eggs in a communal nest from a hen that they don't like, and roll those eggs out of the nest -- into the open, even. I think that this is reproductive competition in the rawest form. They are killing the babies of turkeys that they don't like. Hen competition.


Joanne Rigutto said...

That makes me think of our emus. With emus the hen lays the eggs and the rooster cares for them, incubates them and cares for the chicks.

We have a couple of roos out here who will do everything they can to camoflage the eggs by pulling grass and covering them and they're quite good at it. We once went out in a pen after laying season and found a nest that had 9 eggs in it and we'd been walking past that nest for a couple months looking for eggs. Never saw it.... That's saying a lot considering how big an emu egg is!

Sustainable Eats said...

That's funny. I have golf balls in my nest box because when I take them out the chickens start laying in the bedding where they poop. They consistently roll the golf balls out causing them to drop down below but leave any eggs there. Now it all makes sense!