Turkey Facts: The wild turkey has made a remarkable come back over the last thirty years or so. Conservation efforts that started back in the thirties along with the turkeys natural ability to survive have made the populations rise throughout the United States.
Originally there were estimates of over six to ten million turkeys back in the early days of America. By the late eighteen hundreds, due to civilization, habitat loss, and heavy hunting pressure, the turkeys were almost extinct.
The adult male turkey is called a gobbler. They are between 30 and 45 inches in height. They weigh between 15 and 30 pounds. They are larger in size than female turkeys.
Gobblers have black colored feathers with very dark tips on the end. Breast feathers have a glowing, shiny appearance. The wings are a mixture of browns, black , and a whitish tan. The gobblers overall color is shinier than female turkeys.
Gobblers have a beard that hangs from their chest. The beard appears to be hair like but is actually finely modified feathers. The beard grows approximately 3-5 inches per year. The beard can be used to estimate the gobblers age.
Gobblers have long thin legs. They have sharp, bony spurs on its legs. These spurs grow from year to year and can be used to estimate age. Spurs can range from less than half an inch to over two inches in length.
The gobblers head appears featherless, but actually has fine stubby feathers. The colors of the head are blue, white, and red. These colors fluctuate depending on the mood of the gobbler.
The adult female turkey is called a hen. They are smaller in size than the male turkeys. They weigh between 8 and 14 pounds. They are between 28 and 38 inches in height.
Hens have brown colored feather. The feathers are duller in appearance than gobblers. The feathers have darker brown tips. The hen has shorter feathers on its grayish brown colored head.
Other Turkey Facts
The wild turkey’s three front toes and one back toe, along with long thin legs make it exceptional at running. They have quick acceleration speeds both on the ground and through flight. Although turkeys will fly for short distances, they prefer to spend most of their time walking on the ground.
Turkeys have a wide selection when it comes to food. They eat a wide variety of plants, grubs, insects, berries, and nuts. Turkeys use their feet and legs to unearth food from the ground.
There are six types of wild turkeys. They are the Eastern turkey, Ocellated turkey, Merriam’s turkey, Rio Grande turkey, Osceola turkey, and the Gould’s turkey. The size and different colored feather markings are the main differences in each. The wild turkey can be found in nearly every state of America.
The wild turkey is a cautious and suspicious bird by nature. They are equipped with excellent hearing and eyesight. They can hear the slightest sounds at long distances and can see many times better than humans including colors. They use these senses and characteristics to avoid predators.
Turkeys spend the night time hours roosting in trees. During the day light hours they search for food. While searching, they create scratchings on the ground by kicking leaves, dirt, and other debris behind them as they walk.
With the exception of the time that the hens are on the nest, turkeys spend most of their time together in small flocks. During the winter months these smaller flocks gather together. It is not uncommon to see fifty to seventy five turkeys together during the winter months.
The turkey mating season is in the spring of the year. The hens will lay approximately a dozen eggs that are fertilized by the male gobbler. The eggs hatch after approximately twenty eight days. The young hatched turkeys began to fly after fourteen days. Baby turkeys are called poults.
During this time of the year the male turkey uses his famous gobble sound the most. This is also when the males are seen in their blown up form. They extend their chest and tail feathers and lower their wing feathers to the ground. This mating ritual is called strutting and gives the appearance that the gobbler is a lot larger than actuality. They also make a spitting and drumming sound.
Turkeys make a variety of sounds. Some of the more well known include gobbles, yelps, clucks, purrs and others. They use these sounds to communicate safety, danger, and mating interest with other turkeys.
Young male turkeys are called jakes. Young female turkeys are called jennies.