A group of tom turkeys picked a spot along U.S. 127 for a spring fight. As spring approaches, contests for dominance among males and females are common.
"Their hormones are starting to hum now," said Karen Charleston, facilities manager and curator of birds at the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary at the Michigan State University Kellogg Biological Station in Augusta. "They're having springtime thoughts and it's not food. As daylight increases the hormones start flowing, and it can get quite nasty quick."
These were Eastern wild turkeys, Meleagris gallopavo silvestris, which are the most widely distributed and common of five subspecies found in the United States, according to the National Wild Turkey Federation. They inhabit most of Michigan's Lower Peninsula and the south-central part of the U.P., as well as the entire eastern half of the country.
An adult male can grow as tall as 4 feet and weigh 20 pounds.
Glen Matthews, a wildlife supervisor at the Gaylord unit of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, said bachelor groups are common in the winter and post-breeding seasons, but larger social groups can be made up of 12 to 35 turkeys. They can exhibit aggressive or territorial behavior over a food source, territory, or as segregation among flocks.
The fights can happen late winter through June, but Matthews said it definitely seems to be most active in late March and April.
"The temperature gets up there and they're well-fed, and they start devoting their energy to the mating game," Matthews said.