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Ocellated Turkey Meleagris ocellata

  • Order: Galliformes
  • Family: Phasianidae
  • Monotypic
  • Authors: Jon T. McRoberts, Terrell D. Rich, Claudia I. Rodríguez-Flores, Carlos A. Soberanes-González, and Marîa del Coro Arizmendi

The Ocellated Turkey (Meleagris ocellata) is the sister species to North America’s Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo). It is a Neotropical species of high tri-national concern (Mexico–United States–Canada) to Partners in Flight (Berlanga et al. 2010), a CITES appendix III species (UNEP-WCMC 2012), and classified as near-threatened by the IUCN (BirdLife International 2011). Populations are found in the Mexican Yucatán Peninsula as well as in the Petén region of Guatemala and northern Belize. The species utilizes tropical deciduous forests, savanna, open marshland and agricultural-forest matrix environments. Ocellated Turkeys are known locally as pavo, pavo ocelado, pavo del monte, pavo real, and by the Mayan name ucutz il chican. Its common and scientific names are derived from the eye-spots on the tail feathers, designated as ocellata, from the Latin root oculus for “eye.” Appearance is unmistakable with brilliantly colored plumage of green, blue, gold, black and bronze. The head is featherless, and the exposed skin is powder-blue and dotted with orange and red nodules. Reproduction takes place during spring months with males performing elaborate display rituals to attract females. Active conservation efforts have recently been conducted within the species’ range in Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize. Current conservation risks include subsistence hunting pressure, often a by-product of habitat alteration and anthropogenic encroachment. Quantifiable research will be necessary to bolster conservation efforts and hone population estimates.


© Bret Whitney

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

McRoberts, J. T., T. D. Rich, C. I. Rodríguez-Flores, C. A. Soberanes-González, and M. d. C. Arizmendi (2012). Ocellated Turkey (Meleagris ocellata), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.