Categorized | Features, Boomer Haiku

Researchers on The Case: What turns on a turkey?

Roxanne Thanksgiving

Did you ever wonder about the sexual appetite of the male turkey? Roxanne didn’t either. But evidently, some scientists did.

By Roxanne Jones

Did you ever wonder about the male turkey’s sexual appetite? Me either. But evidently, some scientists did. So, with Thanksgiving around the corner, it seems only fitting to share this particular piece of research:

In 1965, for some reason I have yet to discern, scientists at the University of Pennsylvania presented male turkeys with a lifelike model of a female turkey, and they (the turkeys, not the scientists) tried to mate with it as eagerly as they would with a real bird.

Curious about how little it would take to turn on a turkey (a burning scientific quest, apparently), the researchers began removing parts from the faux bird, one by one, to see when the males would lose interest. As tail, feet and wings were detached from the phony female, the male still sidled up to it, gobbled amorously and attempted to do the deed.

Finally, only a head on a stick remained — and the male turkey was still hot to trot. In fact, he preferred a head on a stick versus a body without a head — and we know this because the scientists tested that, too.

The researchers reportedly speculated that the male turkey’s head obsession relates to the way in which turkeys mate. See, when a male turkey mounts a female, he’s so much bigger that he completely covers her — except for her head. Ergo, the scientists deduced, his erotic attention focuses on her head because that’s all he can see.

The researchers then investigated how barebones they could make the head itself before the male didn’t respond. They found that a freshly severed female head stuck on a stick worked best (kebabs, anyone?). Next in order of preference came a dried-out male head, followed by a two-year-old “discolored, withered and hard” female head. The last option was a plain balsa wood head — and even that got a rise out of the male. Guess he’s not a breast or leg man, huh?

Now I’m not saying we should extrapolate anything from this research with regard to human male behavior — the existence of blow-up dolls notwithstanding (or, for that matter, Philip Roth’s Portnoy character pleasuring himself with a piece of liver).

To be fair, however, I suppose women’s use of sex toys would also fall into the category of being turned on by a faux partner — another kind of a head on a stick.

As for the turkeys, well, this baby boomer never ceases to be amazed at what scientists feel compelled to study (“Hey, guys — let’s talk turkey…sex!”). But as we focus this time of year on giving thanks, I suppose I should offer up gratitude for their pursuits since they provide a wealth of material for this blog.

And at Thanksgiving dinner, when it’s my turn to express what I’m grateful for, I can share this haiku:

I’m glad I’m not a

turkey, and Hubs doesn’t call

me his butterball.

To those who observe the holiday, happy Thanksgiving! Or, if you prefer, happy turkey day!

What about you? What do you think of the male turkey’s taste in sexual partners? Will you ever think of these birds in the same way again? What are you grateful for? Please share…

Roxanne Jones writes Boomer Haiku (, a blog that takes a mostly light-hearted and often irreverent look at life as a baby boomer as we move through midlife and beyond. She earns her living as a freelance copywriter specializing in health and medicine. Follow her on Twitter,

©Copyright 2015. Boomer boHaiku, LLC. All rights reserved

3 Responses to “Researchers on The Case: What turns on a turkey?”

  1. Renee says:

    I will never look at a turkey the same way….

  2. Barbara says:

    This is hilarious! I watch the Southwest Florida Eagle cam when it’s mating season and that can get a little crazy, too. Fun post, Roxanne!

  3. Thanks for your comments, Renee and Barbara!


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