June 26, 2019
Outdoors Latest News | Kendall Chick | Bangor Metro | Sara Gideon | Today's Paper

‘Highly hormonal’ turkeys sumo wrestle in the middle of a Maine road

When you head out on a hike, you never know what you’re going to find. For friends Allison Doughty and Lindsay Curtis, the fun started before they even got to the trailhead on Sunday.

Doughty, who lives in Bangor, explained that the pair were on Route 3 on Mount Desert Island, not far from The Jackson Laboratory, when they spied some turkeys that were not getting along.

Curtis, who is from Brewer, captured the hilarious video of two of the birds pushing each other back and forth on the road, almost like a pair of sumo wrestlers would.

“My first reaction was that it was two male turkeys fighting to win a female, but we weren’t sure when mating season was and none of us knew turkeys fought,” Doughty said. “I had always assumed they displayed feathers or did some type of dance. There was some concern they could be stuck since this went on for quite awhile. They were still locked together when we finally drove by.”

Doughty said she also thought the turkeys looked like they were sumo wrestling.

“First turkey pushed off the road loses?” she said.

It is mating season for turkeys, and males often vie for supremacy by fighting. Turkey hunters often witness aggressive male birds fighting, and some even attack the decoys used by some hunters by kicking and pecking.

But the old-fashioned sumo push? Well, that’s not entirely unheard of, either.

Brad Allen, a wildlife biologist who serves as the bird group leader for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, said he has seen turkeys wrap their necks around each other while battling, much like the birds in the video.

“One can assume this is highly hormonal and part of the wild turkeys day-to-day life constantly assessing the pecking order of the flock and dominance of rival males, who at times are likely brothers,” Allen said. “[That takes on] more significance this time of year when the hens are actually receptive to breeding with the dominant birds.”

 



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