An unusual wild turkey appeared in this year's group of poults. He's slate, although with other colors mixed in. I've seen him in the neighborhood, but this morning I heard him and his cohorts in the yard and got some photos. He contrasts with his five brothers.
He may be emerging as a leader. He was certainly loud in his juvenile hoots. He was more wary than the others. I tried to get a picture of him last week when I passed a group in the car. As soon as I stopped the car and got out the camera, he was the first to leave, amid much flapping.
Turkeys are all one breed, with color variations emerging naturally. This one may result from some crossing in the past with domestic turkeys, white or Royal Palm, or simply be a natural sport, the term for an unexpected color variation.
I'm glad to see a good group of youngsters this year. I've seen mothers over the past months, every time with fewer poults following them around. This group of young men is encouraging.
I hadn't let the chickens out yet when they came by. I wonder if they would have stayed longer if the chickens were there.
They sparred a bit, the slate tom pushing the others around. He's got some size advantage over some of them, but not all. Here's a handsome fellow with more usual plumage.
Ross Simpson's drawing of color variations among turkey feathers is a good way to envision the possibilities. Domestic turkeys have been selectively bred in lots of colors, but this is the most unusual one I've seen in the wild.