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Why Do Male & Female Turkeys Puff Up? (Quick Answers)

Presumably, it’s not a bizarre scene for you or anyone else to notice both male and female turkeys puffing up all of sudden. But do you all know why do they act all puffed up?

So if you don’t know the precise reasons why do male and female turkeys puff up, you might be inquisitive enough to learn the exact reasons behind such an act. 

Thence, to learn the reasons regarding this puffing up behavior of both male and female turkeys, go through the rationales. 

Why Do Turkeys Puff Up And What Does It Mean?

Male turkeys puff up their colorful feathers while displaying them to tempt female turkeys to mate during the mating season. But female turkeys don’t puff up to perform a mating dance, rather they puff up to express dominance among all female turkeys in the flock or if the flock has no male turkeys. 

Be it pet or wild, the puffing up which is also known as strut behavior has commonly been witnessed among turkeys. And predominately this behavior is manifested by a male turkey.

Male turkeys puff up their feathers while pulling their wings and fan the tails exhibiting colorful long features to entice female turkeys for mating. 

Male turkeys display this puffing up or mating dance mostly during the period of breeding so that the female turkeys turn their head over heels towards the male turkeys for mating. However, sometimes male turkeys can puff up during the off-seasons too in an expectation of mating. 

Moreover, it’s pretty much usual to witness female turkeys puff up their feathers like males but they don’t puff themselves up to perform any mating dance like the males.

Instead, a female turkey puffs up to exhibit her dominance over the other female turkeys in a flock. Or if there aren’t any male turkeys in the flock, female turkeys sometimes puff up. 

Why Do Male Turkeys Puff Up Their Feathers And What Does It Mean? 

The puffing up or strutting is an innate behavior of all male turkeys to exhibit their breeding plumage with a hope to impress female turkeys to mate during the mating period. Also, other reasons such as expressing dominance, alpha status, or defensive instinct, etc. can trigger this behavior. 

Below all the other potential causes that trigger male turkeys to puff up have been explained precisely along with the main cause. 

Tempting Female Turkeys: 

When the male turkeys intend to entice the females throughout the period of the mating season, they puff up to look bigger and attractive while displaying their colorful breeding plumages by circling an area around the female turkeys.

Thereby, female turkeys get impressed by this sensational sight of male turkeys’ look and turn their heads towards them agreeing to mate. And it’s the predominant reason. 

Exhibiting Dominance: 

The puffing up act isn’t only executed during the breeding seasons. When there are many other male turkeys in one flock, a male turkey can puff up to display its superiority and dominance over others. It’s just a turkey’s way of saying, “I am the boss here.”

Before A Nasty Fight: 

In a flock of turkeys, male turkeys often can fight with each other to gain the alpha status amongst all of them. And being another innate behavior, two male turkeys that happen to have a nasty fight for the alpha statues can puff up to exhibit a sign of fighting. 

Exhibition Of Defensive Instinct: 

If male turkeys feel jeopardized by other animals or any humans, they puff up making themselves look bigger as puffing up is similar to defensive instincts. 

Why Do Female Turkeys Puff Up And What Does It Mean? 

Female turkeys puff up too but they don’t puff up to entice any male turkeys for mating. Instead, female turkeys puff up to confirm their availability for breeding. Besides, they can puff up as a response to invasion by other female turkeys or reaction to a decisive stimulus such as hunting baits. 

Just like the males, female turkeys also carry the innate behavior of puffing up feathers. And the possible reasons behind their puffing up characteristics have been deciphered below. 

Demonstrating Availability For Reproduction: 

Although the puffing up or strutting of female turkeys doesn’t mean mating dance to lure male turkeys, however, females puff to indicate their availableness for reproduction.

Because the scenario of puffed up female turkeys is contemplated to be tempting and flirtatious by male turkeys.  

Accompanying The Newborn: 

Female turkeys are seen to puff up their feathers while accompanying their babies or poults. Therefore, at those times, the newborns show the same puff up behavior as their mothers. 

In Absence Of Male Turkeys: 

Puffing up is also considered a usual behavior among female turkeys if the flock has no male turkeys. 

Showing Dominance: 

If there are only female turkeys in a flock, sometimes one or two of them tend to puff up to demonstrate dominance against each other or all other female turkeys. It’s a similar behavior as the male turkeys. 

Respond To Hunting Decoys:

Similar to male turkeys, female turkeys also puff up to respond to a hunting decoy or any predator be it other animals or humans going near to them.  

How Do Turkeys Puff Up? 

Just like any other bird, turkeys have tiny muscles at the foundation of every feather that caters the capability for turkeys to maneuver their feathers. And these tiny muscles are attached to other very tiny muscles underneath turkey skin.

So when the turkeys choose to puff up or strut, these muscles tighten and regulate the posture of feathers. As a result, the body plumages of turkeys stand vertical.

The same concept stays true for the muscles at the core of turkeys’ tails and for the muscles in turkeys’ wings. 

How To Identify The Puff-Up In Turkeys?

If you are a new owner or seeing turkeys for the first time, you can easily identify the puff up in turkeys just by looking at these signs that have been explained below. 

Drop The Wings: 

The first sign that can help you identify puff up in turkeys is that noticing the turkeys drop their wings in the first place to touch ground. 

Hold Tails In An Erect Position:

Another sign of recognizing puffing up in turkeys is that catching a glimpse of holding the feathers of their tail in a vertical position. 

As soon as turkeys lower their wings, in the next moment, you will see them holding their tail feathers in an erect position, and at that time just understand that it’s the puff up in turkeys. 

Bigger And Fuller Appearance: 

Turkeys allow their feathers of the breast areas and their back to strut on edges to make them look fuller and bigger than their original appearance. And it’s the other very apparent sign of puffing up.

Longer And Red Snoods: 

When turkeys puff up their snoods become longer and the color changes to a brighter red than usual. 

Bend Heads In An “S” Shape: 

The last sign of puffing up in turkeys is that the bending down of their heads in an “S” shape that is accompanied by a few quick movements and deep noise. 

Why Does My Turkey Puff Up At Me?

The exact reason why a turkey puffs up at humans is not so definite. However, it’s is assumed that if a turkey likes you or becomes excited to see you it can puff up at you while making weird “buckweeeet”, “buckweeeet” sounds. 

Also, if a male turkey assumes you as his rival during the mating season, it may puff up at you. 

When Do Turkeys Puff Up? Do They Strut All Year?

When it is the mating season of turkeys, the male turkeys are most likely to puff up with an intention to attract female turkeys for mating purposes. 

Except for mating purposes, strutting in both male and female turkeys can occur occasionally all year round due to many different reasons such as to show dominance, defensive instinct, to accompany newborns, before a nasty fight, etc. 

When Do Turkeys Start Strutting? 

Turkeys, especially male turkeys, can start strutting at the age of 3 weeks old after being newly hatched. Female turkeys also can strut after one day or as soon as after being hatched. Many newborns also start strutting seeing their mothers strut. 

What Time Of Day Do Turkeys Strut? How Often Do They Strut?

On calm and clear days, turkeys strut in the morning and in the early hours of the afternoon throughout the day. 

The strutting behavior is very random in turkeys. Sometimes they are seen to strut once a week and sometimes they are seen to strut many times every day. 

Final Thoughts 

As an intrinsic characteristic, during the breeding season, male turkeys puff up to persuade female turkeys for mating purposes. While on the opposite, female turkeys puff up to confirm their availability for breeding, in absence of male turkeys, to show dominance, due to defensive instincts, etc.