About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Scuttlebutt on Wild Turkeys

Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) are large, ground-dwelling birds with long legs, long necks, large fan-shaped tails and short, rounded wings. Male wild turkeys have dark, iridescent plumage. Their flight feathers are black with brown stripes and are barred with white. The heads of adult males (called gobblers) are red, blue, or white depending on the season. They have a red wattle (a fleshy lobe that hangs down from the chin or throat), a caruncle (a wart-like projection of skin attached to the upper part of the forehead), and a blackish breast tuft of feathers. Their pink, pinkish-gray, or silver-gray legs have spurs which can grow as long as 3.2 cm.

Female wild turkeys (called hens) are smaller and duller than males. Most females do not have a breast tuft. Females have a grayish head and a feathered neck.

Wild turkeys breed in early spring. Males attempt to attract females by "gobbling" and "strutting" with their tail fanned out, their wings lowered and dragging on the ground, their back feathers erect, their head thrown back and their crop inflated. The gobbles of male wild turkeys can be heard more than 1 mile away.

Females raise one brood per season. The nest is a shallow depression in the ground, usually surrounded by dense brush, vines, tangles, deep grass, or fallen tree tops. The female scratches out the nest and lays 4 to 17 eggs. She incubates the eggs for 25 to 31 days.

Egg dumping (laying eggs in another female's nest) is common in this species. Wild Turkeys are also known to lay eggs in the nests of ruffed grouse. In return Ring-necked pheasants are known nest parasites of wild turkeys.

The chicks are precocial, and are able walk and feed themselves within 24 hours of hatching. However the female broods the chicks at night for the first 2 weeks after hatching.

Thank you again Holly for sharing your photos for this post. If anyone else would like to share a photograph of nature send it to bloubird@gmail.com and I'll put it on the Friday Photo posts.

Information Source: Animal Diversity Web

Related Articles:
· Will a turkey drown if he looks up in the rain? http://bit.ly/rWtgr5
· Why is a Turkey Is Called a Turkey? http://bit.ly/uKNZe5
· Wild Turkeys came close to extinction in the 1930s: http://bit.ly/rgjosF
· What do Turkeys Eat? http://bit.ly/uUiDsN