Meleagris ocellata


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Meleagris ocellata
Species Authority: (Cuvier, 1820)
Common Name(s):
English Ocellated Turkey
Spanish Guajolote Ocelado
Agriocharis ocellata ocellata Collar and Andrew (1988)
Agriocharis ocellata ocellata Collar et al. (1994)
Agriocharis ocellata ocellata Stotz et al. (1996)
Agriocharis ocellata ocellata Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993)

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Colmé, S., Esquivel, E., Kennamer, J., Miller, B., Navarro, A., Wood, P. & Sharpe, C J
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Benstead, P., Capper, D., Sharpe, C J, Taylor, J.
This species is listed as Near Threatened because it has a moderately small population which is suspected to be in decline owing mainly to hunting pressure, plus habitat loss and degradation. Should this species be found to have a small population, it may qualify for a higher category.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Meleagris ocellata occurs in south-east Mexico (Yucatán peninsula), north Guatemala (north Petén) and north-west and west-central Belize (Miller and Miller 1997, AOU 1998). It is probably most common in Belize, where there are several quite large populations in protected areas and it is locally abundant (Miller and Miller 1997, BBIS 1998, B. W. Miller in litt. 2000). However, it has been extirpated from north Yucatán, west Campeche, east Tabasco and north-east Chiapas, Mexico (E. M. F. Esquivel and S. Colmé in litt. 1998), and numbers and habitat quality are presumably declining elsewhere (Gonzalez et al. 1996). Although common in some reserves, it is generally rare (Howell and Webb 1995a) and breeding season survival rates for females (60-75%) and poults (15%) are low in Tikal National Park, Guatemala (Gonzalez et al. 1996, 1998).

Belize; Guatemala; Mexico
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Partners in Flight estimated the population to number fewer than 50,000 individuals (A. Panjabi in litt. 2008), thus it is placed in the band 20,000-49,999 individuals here.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It occupies non-flooded mature forest, but associates with seasonally flooded habitat and open areas when breeding (Gonzalez et al. 1996, 1998). This species is omnivorous and feeds on the ground, taking grass seeds and leaves, fruits and insects, and corn where available (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Breeding begins in March, with nesting taking place from April. It lays 8-15 eggs (average of 12) in a shallow scrape on the ground. The incubation period is 28 days (del Hoyo et al. 1994).

Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There is heavy hunting for food and trade (del Hoyo et al. 1994) (and occasionally sport [E. M. F. Esquivel and S. Colmé in litt. 1998]), even within reserves (Gonzalez et al. 1996). Large-scale clear-cutting and agricultural conversion is fragmenting habitat, increasing its susceptibility to hunting (A. G. Navarro in litt. 1999). There are local reports that chicken-born diseases have spread to populations in contact with domestic poultry (Weyer 1983) but this has never been substantiated (B. W. Miller in litt. 2000).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix III in Guatemala (del Hoyo et al. 1994). It is well protected in Tikal National Park, and a reserve has been created to protect this species in Petén (del Hoyo et al. 1994). There is also a sizeable contiguous block of private protected land in western Belize, including the 105,000 ha Rio Bravo conservation area and Gallon Jug/Chan Chich lodge lands, where the species is relatively common (Sharpe in litt. 2011).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys to obtain a total population estimate. Monitor populations through regular surveys. Monitor hunting pressure. Record trade levels for this species. Track rates of habitat loss and degradation. Investigate the potential threat of chicken-born diseases. Discourage hunting through awareness campaigns. Increase the number of known sites that are protected.

Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Meleagris ocellata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 02 September 2015.
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