Galliformes - Chickens and Turkeys
|by Marcia Malory|
Galliformes make up the order of birds that include chickens, turkeys, grouses, pheasants, partridges and quails.
They are sometimes called fowl or game birds.
Galliformes live on every continent on Earth other than Antarctica, in many different habitats, including forests, mountains, grasslands and semideserts.
Some species of galliform have been domesticated for a very long time, soon after most humans moved from hunter-gatherer to agricultural societies.
Chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus) were probably first domesticated in southeast Asia around 8000 years ago. They are the domesticated variety of the red junglefowl (Gallus gallus), which is native to India, southern China, and some South Pacific islands.
Most galliformes have stocky bodies with small heads, thick necks, long legs, large feet and short wings.
They vary greatly in size.
The smallest galliformes - quails - are only about 5 or 6 inches long and weigh less than an ounce.
Wild turkeys can weigh up to 22 pounds, while domestic turkeys can weigh as much as 44 pounds.
Galliformes usually aren't very good flyers, but they can fly. When they do fly, they usually take off rapidly and fly close to the ground.
The diets of human beings all over the world often include galliformes.
While many galliformes are raised in farms, others are hunted.
Galliformes aren't very active, which makes them relatively easy for humans to shoot.
The eggs of galliformes are rich in protein and are therefore are a valuable food source for human beings
Galliformes tend to be polygamous.
Their young are precocial. This means that they can move around by themselves soon after they are born. They will follow their mothers around hours after they hatch. (Animals, such as humans, that can't move around by themselves right away when they're born are altricial.)
Many male galliformes have sharp spurs on the back of their legs. They use these for fighting.
Sometimes, humans breed male chickens, known as roosters or cocks, specifically to fight in cockfights.
A female galliform is caled hen.
Megapodes, members of the family Megapodiidae, are galliformes that do not use body heat to warm their eggs. Instead, they keep their eggs warm by burying them.
These birds are sometimes called incubator birds.
Megapodes lay their eggs in burrows or in big piles of vegetation.
Therefore, they are also sometimes known as mound builders.
The eggs of megapodes may be warmed by the Sun, by heat from volcanic activity beneath the Earth, or by the fermentation of vegetable matter.
The name "megapode" means “big feet”.
Megapodes have large legs and feet, which they use to dig burrows or to build large mounds of plant matter for nesting.
Usually, the male makes sure that the nest constantly remains at the right temperature.
When megapodes hatch, they are superprecocial. This means that they have an extremely advanced level of physical maturity as soon as they leave the egg.
Some megapodes can fly on the same day that they hatch.
Megapodes live in Australasia.