I have two toms that constantly show off. They are a hoot and and a half. My question is, the spitting seems to be like a sneeze, a sharp exhale from the nostrils. But the drumming? How do they make that happen? I've sat and watched them very close and still can't figure it out.
I have had hearing loss for the majority of my adult life (since my military days). Uncle Sam just fitted me with Oticon hearing aids, and I can't wait to see if I can hear drumming this season. If I can, it'll practically be the first time in my life.....
Not sure how they produce the drumming, my hunting buddy can hear it from a much further distance than me. We have always had a disagreement on whether a tom can drum when not strutting. I have only heard drumming from toms that are in strut.
Spitting is the noise just before drumming. You can hear the drumming further out but can hear the spitting when they are close just before drumming. Like spit...spit.....vrummmmm. At least that is my take
Spitting AND drumming is made by the primary feather tips on the wing when they go into a strut. The "spit" is a sudden and fast movement of wing tip as it drags along the ground. The "drumming" is from the wing tips moving rapidly making a vibrating noise much like a hummingbirds's wings.
Best I can tell they make the spitting sound with their lungs via their beak. If you closely watch videos of them doing it, the beak/head pops up slightly each time they spit. I think the drumming is a sudden rapid shaking of the wings, and always occurs with the wing tips straight down nearly touching the ground.
smarba - I've seen them doing it outside of a hunting situation with birds that are more docile (less "wild) because they're in residential areas. Every time they spit, the wing tips move forward which certainly is part of the sound. When they spit, they will also make sudden or rushed movements almost like lunging forward. It happens quite fast.
This is what Google says and is more aligned with what I have observed.
“ According to the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), male turkeys make this soft, guttural sound by forcing air up from their bodies. They almost always spit and drum when they strut, but also do so when not strutting.”
It's a weird sound! I know it when I hear it, but I can't really describe it very well. I've had a few times when I heard it before I saw a bird (coming from behind us). I told a buddy's daughter to "get ready" because I could hear drumming from very close behind the blind. All he could say was "Why?" Not sure if he couldn't hear it or if he just had no idea what it was (rookie turkey hunter).
Yeah Huntiam, that drumming is hard for me to hear too, but I can hear it if they're close enough, like within 10 or 15 yards...8^)
Living on my grandfather's farm as a teenager caught the school bus at the neighbors and they had a minazory with about every barnyard animal there is... Anyhow the couple domesticated gobblers they had were pretty aggressive always circling, displaying, spitting and drumming around my feet just about every morning while waiting on the bus... You can hear them drum while at your feet....8^) And they weren't bashful neither, they're jump on the back of a passing hen a breed her there right in front of ya, then drag their 2 foot corkscrew ding-a-ling behind them...8^)))