Ocellated Turkey: 21 Facts You Won’t Believe!

Ocellated turkey facts are fascinating.

Indigenous to, and plentiful in, the Yucatan Peninsula, the ocellated turkey (Meleagris ocellata) is an exquisite bird with vividly colorful body feathers and eye-catching tail feathers just like a ravishing peacock. The ring of bright red around their eyes renders a magical appeal to their overall look. The species is considered to be the smallest among all the turkey species. The bird derived its name from the blue-bronze ocelli present in its tail feathers. In Central America, the turkey goes by the name of pavo ocelado, while the Spanish call them guajolote ocelado. For a long time, scientists harbored the belief that the species is somehow related to that of the peafowl species, like the Indian peafowl, since they bear a lot of resemblance with the latter group.

The ocellated turkeys are diurnal, foraging and feeding in the bright sunny mornings while gathering together in groups during the night-time to roost in high trees where they can remain at a safe distance from the night-time predators like leopards or margay cats.

For more relatable content, check out these royal penguin facts and birds of paradise facts for kids.

Ocellated Turkey

Fact File

What do they prey on?


What do they eat?


Average litter size?

8-15 eggs

How much do they weigh?

Approximately 6.6-11 lb (3-5 kg)

How long are they?


How tall are they?

28-48 in (70-120 cm)

What do they look like?

Bronze, Green, Iridescent

Skin Type


What are their main threats?

Humans, Jaguars, Margay Cats, Snakes, Raccoons, Hawks

What is their conservation status?

Near Threatened

Where you'll find them

Savannas, Forests, Grasslands, Shrublands


Southeast Mexico, Northern Guatemala, Belize, Central America





Scientific Name

Meleagris ocellata





Ocellated Turkey Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an ocellated turkey?

An ocellated turkey (Meleagris ocellata) is a species of bird belonging to the family of Phasianidae.

What class of animal does an ocellated turkey belong to?

The ocellated turkey has been categorized under the class Aves.

How many ocellated turkeys are there in the world?

According to the computations of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), there are about 20,000-49,999 adults all over the world.

Where does an ocellated turkey live?

The population of ocellated turkeys is widespread in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. Apart from some places in North America, they can also be spotted in Central America, northern Guatemala, and Belize.

What is an ocellated turkey's habitat?

The habitats of the ocellated turkey range from savannas and forests to grasslands and shrublands. Forests include dense evergreen and tropical deciduous covers.

Who does ocellated turkey live with?

These birds are very social as they tend to dwell in flocks. Interestingly, a flock leader engages in giving out directions to all the flock members while moving. The size of the flock largely depends on the season and time.

How long does an ocellated turkey live?

The life expectancy of the ocellated turkey is unknown owing to data deficiency.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding season commences from the start of February and continues through March (the peak season), and fades out by the end of April. During this time, the male ocellated turkeys engage in a variety of displays, primarily strutting and fanning of their tails, just like the North American turkeys, to appease their female counterpart. The females are believed to attain sexual maturity by a year, whereas the adult males become mature in two to three years. After copulation, the females lay eggs and protect the hatchlings after serving an incubation period of 28 days. The average clutch size comprises 8-15 eggs.

What is their conservation status?

As per the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the conservation status of the ocellated turkey has been categorized under Near Threatened.

Ocellated Turkey Fun Facts

What do ocellated turkeys look like?

Ocellated turkey facts are all about beautiful diurnal birds.

The primary body color of the ocellated turkeys comes in a mixture of bronze and green shades that are iridescent in nature. These birds have a bright red skin ring highlighting their beautiful eyes. Although both sexes possess blue heads and bluish-grey tail feathers embellished by an eye-shaped blue-bronze spot. The location of this spot near the end, along with the orangish-red nodules, is comparatively more pronounced on males. Additionally, the male birds have a fleshy blue crown surrounded by nodules. The tail feathers of the birds exhibit a beautiful bright, gold tip. Breast feathers do not differ and cannot be used to determine sex.

How cute are they?

Ocellated turkeys, with their rainbow-colored plumage, exhibit an elegant appearance. These birds are extremely beautiful due to the vibrant color of their feather. The glamourous ocellated turkey feathers are no less in comparison to the peacock's lustrous feathers.

How do they communicate?

The adult males emit low drumming sounds, high-pitched chops, and the famous gobbling sounds. Other vocalizations common to both genders include the nasal cluck-putt with which they intimidate the other flock members about the current location. The alarm or warning calls are normally high-pitched.

How big is an ocellated turkey?

The average length of an ocellated turkey ranges from about 28-48 in (70-120 cm). These turkeys are undoubtedly smaller than the broad-breasted bronze turkeys. However, the species has a somewhat similar size when compared to its close relative, the North American wild turkey standing at about 30-37 in (76-95 cm).

How fast can an ocellated turkey move?

When compared to the wild turkeys who can run at an average speed of 25 mph (40 kph), the speed of ocellated turkeys remains a mystery. However, these turkeys are adept at running and flying (short distances) with swiftness when chased.

How much does an ocellated turkey weigh?

The approximate weight of ocellated turkeys is in the range of 6.6-11 lb (3-5 kg). The weight of the male ocellated turkeys is around 11-13 lb (5-5.8 kg), and the weight of the females has been recorded at 6.6-9 lb (3-4.08 kg). The weights of both seexes increase slightly during the breeding season.

What are the male and female names of the species?

The male is regarded as a tom or gobbler, whereas a female is called a hen.

What would you call a baby ocellated turkey?

A baby turkey commonly goes by the name of poult.

What do they eat?

Ocellated turkeys are omnivorous as they are known to have a diet based on both plants and insects consisting of leaves, berries, seeds, fruits, nuts, ants, moths, beetles, and others. However, they have predators like jaguars, hawks, and margays.

Are they dangerous?

The danger associated with turkeys varies. Normally, turkeys are not considered to be threats to humans, but there is a catch, the threat factor depends largely on the behavior of the turkeys. This means that some wild turkeys might portray an aggressive behavior when they feel threatened by human presence, while some others might try to dominate the humans when they feel too comfortable around them. No matter how a wild turkey behaves, it's wise to maintain a safe distance from them.

Would they make a good pet?

Just like pet cats or dogs, turkeys can prove to be your cuddle companion when domesticated. These birds are known to be very meek and gentle. Their docile and lovable nature makes them good pets to have around. However, these wild birds must not be estranged from their natural habitat and kept as pets.

Did you know...

To adjust to the surrounding temperature, these birds prefer to maintain an inactive, seated posture (sedentary) and remain within shady areas during excessive heat.

If you get lucky enough, you can listen to the melodious songs of the ocellated turkeys at dawn (about 20-25 minutes prior to sunrise).

Did you know that adult males become brighter in appearance during the breeding season? The crown swells while the color of the nodules turns bright yellow-orange.

Can you buy an ocellated turkey?

Although the status of the ocellated turkeys is near threatened, they can be purchased and even hunted down. An ocellated turkey hunt costs in the range of $2,500 to $3,000. A small number of ocellated turkeys could be reared and bred in captivity. For instance, Sid Drenth, the expert exotic bird breeder, couldn't derive successful results in his ocellated turkey breeding project even though he had successfully reared and bred other exotic bird species. Ocellated turkeys that have been taken up by zoos and conservation parks have also failed in most of their attempts.

Are ocellated turkeys endangered?

Considering the records publicized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the population of the ocellated turkeys is diminishing at an alarming rate, almost close to the point of being endangered within a few decades (given that conservation efforts prove futile). However, the species is currently believed to be almost threatened.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our sea eagle facts and eagle facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable ocellated turkey coloring pages.



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