Jan Norris: Food and Florida

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Osceola, the Beautiful Florida Turkey

November 27th, 2008 · 2 Comments

A little homage on Thanksgiving day, about a wild turkey subspecies found in a certain area on the Florida peninsula, and named for the famous Seminole chief. W.E.D. Scott gave the bird its name.

Here’s the gobble on it, from Slow Food writer, Diane Campion. (Slow Foods is the international organization that’s helping preserve food heritages and traditions around the world. If you want to join the newly formed Glades-to-Coast local chapter, click here. Several interesting events, including a dinner at Cafe Boulud in Palm Beach, are upcoming.)

 The Osceola Turkey

The Osceola turkey is the smallest and one of the most challenging subspecies of turkey to hunt. A mature tom turkey will only weigh 16 – 18 pounds in his peak breeding state but makes up for the lower weight with longer spurs and beards on average than the other subspecies. The Osceola subspecies is similar in feather markings to the Eastern except that black predominates in the wing barring of the primary wing feathers. Feathers of the Florida turkey show more iridescent green and red colors, with less bronze than the eastern. The dark color of the tail coverts and the large tail feathers tipped in brown are similar to the eastern, but unlike the lighter colors of the three western subspecies. Its colorations and behavior are ideal for the flat pine woods, oak and palmetto hammocks and swamp habitats of Florida. Adult females, or hens, are similar to the males but duller and lighter colored throughout, except wing feathers, which are darker.

Turkey gobble: their sweet nothings

The reproductive cycle for the Florida wild turkey begins only slightly earlier than for the eastern wild turkey in other southern states. However, in southern Florida, turkeys gobble during warm spells in January, several weeks before actual mating. Egg laying is mainly in April with the cycle complete with peak hatching occurring in May.

Limited range

The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) only recognizes birds as Osceolas if they are taken south of a line drawn between Taylor and Dixie counties on the Gulf to a line running between Nassau and Duval counties on the Atlantic coast.

Tags: Old Florida · Recipes: What's Cooking! · Southern Roots Run Deep · Today in the World of Food

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Bayside Chatter: Still Recovering From The Tryptophan - A Taste of Boca Raton // Dec 1, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    […] • All about the Osceola turkey, a wild turkey native to Florida. [Jan Norris […]

  • 2 subliminal turkey // Nov 25, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Ok,there is tryptophan in turkey, but there’s actually more in chicken and some other foods. It’s not the chemical that makes you sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner, it’s all the extra energy you use digesting a huge meal.One belief is that heavy consumption of turkey meat (as for example in a Thanksgiving or Christmas feast) results in drowsiness, which has been attributed to high levels of tryptophan contained in turkey.While turkey does contain high levels of tryptophan, the amount is comparable to that contained in most other meats.Furthermore, postprandial Thanksgiving sedation may have more to do with what is consumed along with the turkey, in particular carbohydrates and alcohol, rather than the turkey itself. I hope this helps everyone who is falling asleep on Thanksgiving while watching the parade!!

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