Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)

This month, we talk about the largest game birds in North America.

Description: 

Males: about 4 feet long including the tail. Females: about 3 feet long. Wingspans up to 5 feet wide. Days spent foraging for food, nights resting in low branches of trees. Male turkeys, also called "Tom Turkeys" or "Gobblers," will strut about shaking their feathers to attract females or “hens.” Bodies are covered with 5,000 - 6,000 dark feathers that help them blend in with their surroundings. Bare skin on throats and heads change color from flat gray to shades of red, white and blue when the bird becomes distressed or excited. Males are more colorful. Females are drab brownish. Have excellent vision during the day; don't see well at night. Can run up to 25 mph, can fly up to 55 mph. They do not fly south or hibernate. They travel in small same-sexed flocks most of the year. Their gobble can carry for up to a mile.

Habitat: 

Open woodlands or forests. Forested areas used for cover from predators and for roosting in trees at night. 

Range: 

North America, and there are five subspecies. All five range throughout different parts of the continent. Flocks are also found in Europe, New Zealand and Hawaii.
 

Diet: 

Omnivorous. Acorns, seeds, wild berries, small insects and salamanders.

Life Span: 

Less than 10 years in the wild.

 

Family Life: 

Spring: male turkeys befriend as many females as possible using their fancy tails. Courtship: March - April. Eggs are laid early March. Incubation period: 27 - 34 days with each clutch being 4 -17 eggs. Nests can be found in a shallow dirt depression, surrounded by woody vegetation that conceals the nest.  Males provide food. Females incubate eggs and rear the young. The young remain dependent for 8 - 10 weeks.  Breeding pairs are monogamous and often return to the same nest year after year.

Status: 

Least Concern.