I commented that we should keep an eye out for male Wild Turkeys in display. It is that time of year. And there they were: not one, but two.

After watching the two toms for a while, it struck me that there was something odd about their behaviour. Each was decked out in its striking courting plumage and there were a number of females in the neighbourhood. Yet, rather than seriously approaching the ladies, the two toms stuck so closely together that they were almost always touching.

Were they more interested in each other than the ladies? Well, sort of. Neither seemed interested in the other sexually, but saw him as competition. It seems to have been a example of

keep your friends close, but your enemies closer

which was memorably stated by Micheal Coreleone in the movie, Godfather, Part II (1974), but which originated in Niccolò Machiavelli’s, The Prince (1513).

The two turkey toms appeared inseparable.

Females were plentiful, but so obsessed were the males with blocking the other’s access, that neither made conquests. It was all rather funny and pathetic.

So the toms wandered away loveless, each presumably pleased the other had been thwarted.


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4 Responses to Tomfoolery

  1. Jana says:

    Oh, what a funny story. Thanks Alistair for making my day (in the bed with a slipped-out disc). And – I love the fitting quotation.

  2. Irene McIlwaine. says:

    One my, dosy jucks indeed.

  3. Heather says:

    i had a big tom strutting down the road by my house the other day, trying to impress all the females feeding in my yard. Sorry for the tom, but the females were MUCH more interested in feeding, than in watching him. Perhaps the toms appreciate the attention they get from each other!

    • Alistair says:

      Heather, yes, I too have watched females just ignore a solitary strutting tom. (Mind you, given the number of Wild Turkeys around, the females don’t always ignore the tom’s display.) However, this was the first time I had seen the competition between two toms.

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