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Scientific Classification

Genus species:Meleagris gallopavo

Animal Characteristics

Head-Body Length:91-122 cm
Weight:Toms 7-11kg; Hens 4-6 kg
Identification:The wild turkey is dusky brown with a bronze sheen and barred with black. The head and neck are naked with blue and red wattles. The tail is fan-shaped with chestnut or buff tips. The head of the male (also known as a tom) has little or no plumage and is reddish and blue in color. The wattles, or fleshy lobes which hang from the neck and chin, are much more pronounced on toms. The male turkey has spurs and a beard on his breast, but occasionally females also have a beard. The head of the female is blue-gray and is covered with hair-like feathers. The color of a wild turkey???s breast feather tips can be used to determine the sex of the bird. Males have a jet black terminal band on the breast feathers, and females have an off-white band at the tip.
Habitat:Woodlands, mountains, swamps, riparian zones
Diet:Omnivore: acorns, leaves, shrubs, seeds, fleshy hawthorn, grains (wheat barley oats an corn), berries, rose hips, buds, grass, roots, bulbs, insects, spiders, snails, small reptiles, amphibians, crabs
Reproduction:In the spring, males begin mating with several females. Turkeys are able to breed at one year of age. Each female will lay 10-15 eggs, sometimes sharing a nest with another female. The incubation lasts 25-31 days and is performed by the female.
Turkeys typically winter in large flocks with hens and the young segregated from flocks of toms. In March or April, males leave the wintering ground and set up breeding territories. Once breeding territories are set up, toms begin collecting hens to form a harem. Mating begins and females spend a lot of time with the tom. When egg laying begins, females move away from the tom and set up nests. After all the females have left, males join together for the summer and possibly until the next spring. Two to three weeks after the poults hatch, the barren hens and hens with young congregate to spend the summer. The family groups converge in wintering areas as early as September; however, they may move back to timber or riparian zones, depending on weather and food availability.
Behavior:Although turkeys usually walk or run along the ground, they can fly and will roost in tall trees overnight. They are a non-migratory species.
Status:No special status
Interesting Facts:Ben Franklin wanted the wild turkey to serve as the national bird of the United States rather than the bald eagle. The shape of the feces can be used to determine the sex of the wild turkey. The tom's droppings are j-shaped with a tight curl on the end. The hen's droppings are tightly curled, spiraled, or bulbous.

Other Information

Geographic:North America Date:1972-01 Subjects:Wild turkey
upland ground bird
Common turkey