For the truth the Turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America… He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his farm yard with a red coat on.So wrote Benjamin Franklin to his daughter in 1784. Meleagris Gallopavo (or the common wild turkey native to the United States of America) dons a bright red waddle over his throat. Truly an unusual beard, but it is not unconventional.
The turkey uses the waddle in two ways. It is a cooling device — when the weather is hot, the turkey expands the waddle with blood so that it can cool down in the air. It also serves as a display. Depending on how the turkey feels it may show the waddle to its fullest and reddest or hide it totally. When the tom wants to charm a hot li’l hen, he let’s his bright red beard do all the work.
Also known as a comb, the waddle is a rare feature on a bird. The turkeybeard is indeed a moustache-beard combo, with the moustache draped over the beak like a wet noodle and the beard delicately reposed upon the gobbler’s creepy long neck.
And while the turkeybeard may not look so pretty to humans, it is to hens. That and the super-warm scarf functionality make for a pretty sweet beard.