The turkey, commonly referred to as the domesticated turkey, has become an essential part of Christmas and Thanksgiving celebrations. This fascinating bird is known for its unique gobbling sound that echoes throughout the forest. But what causes this sound? Is it a language that turkeys use to communicate with one another? Read on to find out the intriguing answers to these questions and more!
The Basics of Turkey Vocalization
Turkeys are known for their peculiar sounds that help them communicate with each other. Depending on gender and age, the sound produced by turkeys differ in pitch, specificity, and tone. The male turkey, known as the tom or gobbler, is the more vocal of the two genders. The sound he produces is commonly referred to as gobbling, while the female, called the hen, produces a clucking sound. To better understand turkey vocalization, let’s dive into the specifics.
The gobbling sound is unique to male turkeys, and it’s their most noticeable sound. The turkey makes use of its syrinx, a specialized vocal organ located at the base of the trachea, to produce this sound. The gobbles are long, deep-throated sounds that last for two seconds or more. The gobble is a series of notes repeated to create a rhythmical pattern.
The female turkey produces sounds that are generally short and monotonic. The clucking sound is used to communicate with her young ones and other members of the flock. Her clucks are usually made up of two or three single-note vocalizations. The sound is quick and explosive, reaching a higher pitch at the end.
The Reason Why Turkeys Gobble
It’s a common misconception that turkeys gobble to signify the coming of the holiday season. Gobbling is a natural occurrence in the turkey population that serves some distinct purposes.
The gobbler produces the gobbling sound to attract mates during breeding season. The sound of the gobble is the turkey equivalent of a “come-hither” call to the females in the area.
The gobbling sound is also used to define the territory of the turkey in the area, usually during non-breeding seasons. Male turkeys can gobble at a volume so loud that it echoes throughout the forest, allowing them to claim an area without physical confrontation with other males.
Spreading the Word
Gobbling is also a way for male turkeys to alert other members of their flock about potential danger. A series of strong, rhythmical gobbles followed by some clucks is the turkey equivalent of a warning call.
Other Turkey Sounds You Should Know About
While gobbling and clucking are the two most recognizable sounds of turkeys, there are other vocalizations you need to be aware of. These sounds are vital to the communication system of turkeys and help them survive in the wild.
The purring sound is usually made by turkeys when they’re content or relaxed. This sound is softer and shorter than the clucking sound and is usually made by hens. Tom turkeys can also make a low-pitched purring sound while strutting.
The yelp sound is a multi-note call that turkeys make when walking or flying. The sound is used by both males and females to locate other members of their flock.
The kee-kee sound is a high-pitched kee-kee noise that young turkeys make. This call is usually made in response to the assembly call of their mother and is used to identify their location.
Turkey Vocalization Conclusion
Turkeys are fascinating creatures that have a complex way of communicating with each other. From gobbling to purring, clucking, yelping, and the kee-kee sound, turkeys have a unique vocal system that helps them survive and thrive in the wild.
FAQs About Turkey Sounds
- What does a turkey gobble sound like? The gobble is a long, deep-throated sound that lasts for two seconds or more. The gobble is a series of notes repeated at a rhythmical pattern.
- What sound does a turkey make when scared? When turkeys are frightened, they will make a series of scratchy, repetitive, high-pitched yelps.
- Do female turkeys gobble? No, only male turkeys gobble. The female turkey produces a clucking sound.
- How do turkeys communicate with each other? Turkeys communicate with each other through vocalization, including gobbling, clucking, yelping and the kee-kee sound. They also communicate through body language and visual signals.
- What do turkeys sound like when they are happy? When turkeys are relaxed or content, they will make a soft, low-pitched purring sound.
- Benowitz, A. (2021, March 18). Turkey Sounds Explained. American Forest Foundation. https://www.forestfoundation.org/blog/turkey-sounds-explained
- Borders, J. E. (2000). Communication in Wild Turkey. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, 112(2), 181-190. https://www.jstor.org/stable/4164430
- ScienceDirect. (n.d.). Wild Turkey. ScienceDirect. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/wild-turkey