Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey

Wild turkey are native to North America and can be found throughout the wooded areas of the United States. An unsuccessful candidate for our National bird, the turkey nearly became extinct in the early 1930s due to hunting. Now the turkey populations are flourishing and it’s estimated that there are over 7 million of them.

Turkey have superb vision during the day, but can’t see that well at night. Their sense of smell is not that good, so unlike the white-tailed deer, a turkey will usually detect you by their sight.

A turkey’s diet consists primarily of acorns (white oak). And they will continue to grow almost 4” of girth annually! Males can be spotted by their beard. A young “Jake” (boy) will have a 2-3” beard which will grow up to 8-12 inches in length when he becomes an adult “Tom”. While rare (less than 5%), some of the hens or female turkeys will grow a small beard.

It’s estimated that a turkey is covered in over 50,000 feathers. These feathers can be white, brown, black, and grey. And an adult gobbler can weigh upwards of 17-19 pounds! While they aren’t normally spotted in flight, they can fly up to 55 mph and run at speeds greater than 25 mph. They travel in flocks and can be spotted in fields and wooded areas feeding together. They eat in the early morning and late afternoon hours and this is usually the best time to spot a turkey in the woods.

The turkey’s mating season is between February and April. The hen will usually lay anywhere from 10-12 eggs and tend to them for a period of 28-days. The nest is a shallow wooded depression covered with wooded vegetation. The hen will be close by turning the eggs and protecting them. Once hatched, the young poults (babies) will eat insects, berries, and seeds in the first 12 hours of their life!

Wild turkeys are fascinating woodland birds and are exciting to see in the wild. Successful turkey hunters are very still, very camouflaged…and very lucky! Gobble, Gobble.