- Ben Franklin wanted to make the wild turkey the national bird, and even today some people wish he had succeeded. Stately birds in the forest – and Thanksgiving Day symbols at the home – wild turkeys are the largest game birds in America. Their recorded history here goes back to the 1540 expedition of Coronado.
- Before that, turkeys were important to Native Americans. They were hunted, and even domesticated, in the East and Southwest. Turkey bones 15,000 years old and more have been found in caves and stream beds used by Native Americans. Turkeys were eaten and also supplied feathers for clothing and arrow fletching. Bones became awls , beads and spoons .
Click on the language to view common names.
Common Names in Albanian:
Gjeli I Detit
Common Names in Basque:
Common Names in Belarusian:
Common Names in Breton:
Common Names in Bulgarian:
Common Names in Catalan:
Common Names in Cornish:
Common Names in Croatian:
Common Names in Czech:
Krocan, Krocan Divok
Common Names in Danish:
Common Names in Dutch:
Kalkoen, Wilde Kalkoen
Common Names in English:
American turkey, Common Turkey, common wild turkey, eastern turkey, Florida turkey, Merriam's turkey, Mexican turkey, plain turkey, Rio Grande turkey, turkey, Wild Turkey, wood turkey
Common Names in Esperanto:
Common Names in Estonian:
Common Names in Faroese:
Common Names in Finnish:
Common Names in French:
Dinde sauvage, Dindon, dindon sauvage
Common Names in Frisian:
Common Names in Friulian:
Common Names in German:
Common Names in Hungarian:
Common Names in Icelandic:
Common Names in Irish:
Common Names in Italian:
Tacchino, Tacchino comune
Common Names in Japanese:
Common Names in Ladino:
Common Names in Latin:
Common Names in Latvian:
Common Names in Lithuanian:
Common Names in Macedonian:
Common Names in Maltese:
Common Names in Manx:
Common Names in Norwegian:
Common Names in Occitan:
Common Names in Polish:
Indyk, Indyk Zwyczajny
Common Names in Portuguese:
Common Names in Romanian:
Curcan, Tudkano Tudka
Common Names in Romansh:
Common Names in Russian:
Dikaja Indejka, Индейка обыкновенная
Common Names in Sardinian:
Caboni De Endias
Common Names in Scots:
Common Names in Serbian:
Common Names in Slovak:
Common Names in Slovenian:
Common Names in Sorbian, Lower:
Common Names in Sorbian, Upper:
Common Names in Spanish:
Guajalote gallipavo, Guajolote Gallipavo, Guajolote Norte, Guajolote norteÃ±o, Guajolote norteño
Common Names in Spanish (Mexico):
Common Names in Swedish:
Common Names in Turkish:
Common Names in Turkmen:
Common Names in Ukrainian:
Common Names in Welsh:
Adult Male: Head : bare blue and pink Face : Wattles: red Body: Breast: blackish breast tuft or beard Color: iridescent dark with greens and bronzes Size: large Legs : Leg Color: spurred , pinkish.
The male has dark iridescent feathers overall, red wattles on the throat , and a dark tuft suspended from the breast. The female is duller than the male, lacks wattles, and often lacks a breast tuft.
About 37 to 46 inches long, with a wingspan of 48 to 60 inches. Adults
weigh about 260.8 ounces
Turkeys may live longer than five years in the wild, but average life expectancy is closer to two years. Life in the wild takes its toll on young turkeys (poults).
Preferred habitats include mature forests , open woodlands, and farm areas.
Vegetation: tropical lowland evergreen forest, pine-oak forests, tropical lowland evergreen forest, pine forests • Minimum Elevation: 1,200 meters • Maximum Elevation: 2,500 meters • Foraging Strata: Terrestrial • Center of Abundance: Middle montane: mountains, middle range, 1,600-2,600 m. • Sensitivity to Disturbance: Medium
Typically found at an altitude of 0 to 2,911 meters (0 to 9,551 feet).
List of Habitats
- 1 Forest
- 1.4 Forest - Temperate
- 1.5 Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
- 2 Savanna
- 2.1 Savanna - Dry
- 3 Shrubland
- 3.4 Shrubland - Temperate
- 3.5 Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
- 3.8 Shrubland - Mediterranean-type Shrubby Vegetation
- 4 Grassland
- 4.4 Grassland - Temperate
- 14 Artificial/Terrestrial
- 14.1 Artificial/Terrestrial - Arable Land
- 14.2 Artificial/Terrestrial - Pastureland
During the non-breeding season
, the birds forage
in flocks on the
, seeds, some leaves, salamanders, worms, snails,
and insects. Food items are swallowed whole and ground up in the
and poults succumb to predation
foxes, and Bobcats. Nests
may be attacked by Raccoons, Opossums,
skunks, foxes, snakes
, and rodents. Wild populations
infected by diseases transmitted by domesticated fowl such as chickens
and domestic turkeys.
Turkeys eat a variety of foods, including pine and pinon nuts and other mast in the winter, and berries , grass , insects, and fruits when available. Green vegetation is important in their diet in the spring . In the wintertime, juniper berries and tall grass are usually available to turkeys. The birds move to lower elevations to escape severe winter in higher elevations.
The Wild Turkey is a non-territorial, polygynous
bird. Males perform
displays by strutting and gobbling. Females mate with them
and then nest
by themselves. Nests are shallow depressions
into the ground
. Common habitat
for nesting is open woodland. Nests
are often concealed under brush
, or shrubs
in late March; 10 to 12 eggs
are laid. Eggs are white with light
brown spots. Incubation
lasts 28 days. Within one day of hatching
the precocial young birds, called poults, are able to walk. By day
two, the hen
and poults form an organized feeding line
. Hen and young
remain together and may join other brood flocks through the summer
. Male young leave the brood hen in late fall to join other
males. Female young leave the following spring
. At this time the
female flocks break
up, forming smaller groups of females attended
by 1 - 4 adult
After mating in March and April, females make their nests, usually shallow depressions in pine needles and grass. Hens lay from nine to 12 eggs over a period of two to three weeks. The hen does not protect the eggs during this time, and freezing weather in late spring can kill many of the eggs. Nests are usually at the base of a tree and have deadfall or blowndown wood . There is usually a long, narrow opening where hens lead poults after they hatch . Here they find insects that comprise their diet for the first few months. These openings are called brood lanes. The average distance from water to a nest is a third of a mile . About 35 percent of mature hens are successful in producing eggs.
Most hens begin incubating their Merriam's subspecies Rio Grande subspecies Gould's subspecies eggs by late May. After an incubation of about 28 days, poults hatch and are soon able to forage for food with their mother. She often joins up with two or three other hens, and they raise their families together. Young turkeys grow rapidly, and as soon as they are able, they roost in trees at night, where they are much safer than on the ground. Roost trees, usually mature ponderosa pines, are tall and have horizontal branches. They are used over and over, and may sometimes be recognized by accumulated droppings. By late September, poults are nearly the size of hens. Large groups of hens and poults stay together in the winter, and young birds become completely independent only when hens leave them to start the breeding cycle again.
Breeding Habitat: Woodland Clutch Size: 8-15 Length of Incubation: 27-28 days Days to Fledge : 6-10 Number of Broods: 1
Predators take a large toll on turkey populations, with bobcats and coyotes being the most efficient in late winter and early spring . Other predators include skunks, bears, and raccoons. Poults are susceptible to predation by hawks and owls for the first few weeks.
- Whittaker & Margulis,1978
- C. Linnaeus, 1758
- (Hatschek, 1888) Cavalier-Smith, 1983
- Grobben, 1908
- (Haeckel, 1874) Cavalier-Smith, 1998
- Bateson, 1885
- Cuvier, 1812
- Jawed Vertebrates
- Goodrich, 1930
- Linnaeus, 1758
- Gauthier, 1986
- (C. Linnaeus, 1758)
- Pycraft, 1900
- Sibley et al., 1988
- Order: Galliformes () - Temminck, 1820
- Superorder: Galloanserimorphae () - Sibley et al., 1988
- Cohort: Neognathae () - Pycraft, 1900
- Infraclass: Aves () - (C. Linnaeus, 1758)
- Subclass: Avialae () - Gauthier, 1986
- Class: Aves () - Linnaeus, 1758
- Superclass: Tetrapoda () - Goodrich, 1930
- Infraphylum: Gnathostomata () - auct. - Jawed Vertebrates
- Subphylum: Vertebrata () - Cuvier, 1812 - Vertebrates
- Phylum: Chordata () - Bateson, 1885 - Chordates
- Infrakingdom: Chordonia () - (Haeckel, 1874) Cavalier-Smith, 1998
- Branch: Deuterostomia () - Grobben, 1908
- Subkingdom: Bilateria () - (Hatschek, 1888) Cavalier-Smith, 1983
- Kingdom: Animalia () - C. Linnaeus, 1758 - animals
Status: Accepted Name
Last scrutiny: 08-Jun-2005
The Wild Turkey is much larger than other wild fowl birds.
Members of the genus Meleagris
ZipcodeZoo has pages for 10 species and subspecies in this genus:
M. gallopavo (Common Wild Turkey) · M. gallopavo ellioti (Rio Grande Turkey) · M. gallopavo gallopavo (South Mexican Turkey) · M. gallopavo intermedia (Wild Turkey) · M. gallopavo merriami (Wild Turkey) · M. gallopavo mexicana (Gould's Turkey) · M. gallopavo onusta (Moore's Turkey) · M. gallopavo osceola (Wild Turkey) · M. gallopavo silvestris (Eastern Wild Turkey) · M. ocellata (Occelated Turkey)
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Accessed through GBIF Data Portal December 04, 2007:
- Avian Knowledge Network, eBird
- Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, Bishop Museum Natural History Specimen Data
- Biologiezentrum der Oberoesterreichischen Landesmuseen, Biologiezentrum Linz
- Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility, Ontario Nest Records
- Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility, Provincial Museum of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada. Birds
- Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility, Royal British Columbia Museum
- Marine Science Institute, UCSB, Paleobiology Database
- Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, Terrestrial vertebrate specimens
- New Brunswick Museum, NBM birds
- UNIBIO, IBUNAM, CNAV/Coleccion Nacional de Aves
- University of Michigan Museum of Zoology
- , Bird specimens
- Biodiversity Heritage Library NamebankID: 11946
- Catalogue of Life Accepted Name Code: ITS-176137
- Global Biodiversity Information Facility Taxonkey: 2496811
- Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) Taxonomic Serial Number (TSN): 176136
- IUCN ID: 222547
- Natural Heritage Network Species Identifier: ABNLC14010
- Zipcode Zoo Species Identifier: 910