Wild Turkey Meleagris gallopavo
Size: Male: 46 inches (117 cm)
Female: 37 inches (94 cm)
Quick Identification: Dark, iridescent body bare head is pink and blue Male has red skin patch on throat
• Very large, small-headed, round-winged, long-tailed,
• Unfeathered bluish head and reddish throat
• Dark breast, belly and upper back
• Iridescent bronze and green wings
• Barred primaries
• Dark, fan-shaped tail with brown or buff band at tip
• Larger head with wattle at throat, caruncled forehead, and projection behind the bill
• More iridescent plumage
• Too large to be confused with any other bird.
Open woodlands with clearings, forest edges, brushy areas. Semiarid mountains in the southwest. Roost in trees at night. Spends early morning and late afternoon foraging on ground for acorns, seeds, fruits, nuts and insects. Poor flier. Largest North American game bird.
Breeding: Mature deciduous and deciduous-conifer forests, open woodland, especially in mountains. 1 brood. Mating system is polygynous.
Displays: Males gobble and strut with plumage erect, tail fanned, head ornaments swollen, and wings drooped with quills rattling.
Nest: Usually concealed in grass or shrubs; shallow depression lined with a few dead leaves, grass. Female builds nest.
Eggs: Ten to twelve. Buff to white, marked with dull brown. 2.5" (63 mm).
Chick Development: Female incubates. Incubation takes 27-28 days. Development is precocial (mobile, downy, follow parents, are shown food). Young are able to fly after 6-10 days. Female tends young.
Diet: Mostly seeds, nuts (especially acorns), fruit, leaves of many plants; also insects, especially grasshoppers, terrestrial invertebrates, small vertebrates.
Conservation: Winter resident. Reintroduced to much of range where formerly extirpated by habitat loss and diseases spread by domestic poultry (latter still problem in east and southeast).
Notes: Nearly became national bird of U.S., losing by one vote in congressional ballot. Female performs distraction display. Chicks roost under body, wings, and tail of female until about 4 weeks old. Family groups and broodless females coalesce into flocks when young are several weeks old. Roost in trees. Winter flocks, either unisexual or mixed, usually to 40-50, much larger in some areas.
Charles Sibley's Birds of the World: Meleagris gallopavo, WILD TURKEY. Deciduous and mixed forest, open woods, savanna. Locally in lowlands and mts. to 2100 m from c Washington e across the n U.S. and s Canada to c New England s to s Calif., s Arizona, s New Mexico, c,s Texas, Gulf coast and Florida. Local in western and northern parts of range, more continuous from c Minnesota, c Wisconsin, w,s Illinois, c Indiana, s,e Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, c New England s through Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, n Louisiana, Gulf states, c Florida. Re-introduced to many parts of the U.S. where it had been extirpated, and areas where it did not occur naturally in the recent past, as in California.
In Mexico, formerly in the Sierra Madre Occidental from ne Sonora and nw Chihuahua s to the c highlands from Jalisco to Puebla and in ne Mexico from e Coahuila, Nuevo León and Tamaulipas s to Puebla. Now occurs in the Sierra Madre Occidental in e Sonora, w Chihuahua, w Durango and n Jalisco to Nayarit, and locally in e Coahuila, w Nuevo León and n San Luis Potosí.
Introduced in New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands and w Europe, but mostly extirpated.