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WILD TURKEY Powered By Docstoc

Meleagris gallopavo
          Turkey Facts
• 5,000-6,000 feathers cover the body
  in patterns called feather tracts
• Feathers keep turkey dry & warm
• Allow them to fly
• Allow them to show off for opposite
• Head & upper part of neck is
• Feathers exhibit a metallic glittering
  called iridescence
• Feather colors vary from red to green
  to copper to bronze to gold
• Male is more colorful
• Female is drab brownish to lighter
  color to help camouflage with
• Male turkey is called the gobbler
• Female turkey is called the hen
• Two major characteristics that
  distinguish males from females, Spurs
  & Beards
• Males begin growing spurs soon after
• Spurs can reach up to 2 inches long
• Beards are modified feathers growing
  out of chest
• Beards grow to an average of 9 inches
  long but can grow much longer
• 10-20% of hens will have beards
• Have excellent vision during the day
• Poor night vision
• Very mobile
• Turkeys can run up to 25 mph
• Turkeys can fly up to 55 mph
• Mating season can occur between
  February & April
• Hens nest in shallow dirt depressions
  on the ground
• Hens lay a clutch of 10-12 eggs during
  a 2-week period, usually laying one egg
  per day
• Hens will incubate eggs for about 28
  days, occasionally turning &
  rearranging the eggs until they are
  ready to hatch
• Newly hatched flock must be ready to
  leave the nest within 12-24 hours to
• Young turkeys are called poults
• Poults eat insects, berries & seeds
• Adults will eat anything from acorns
  & berries to insects & small reptiles
• Usually feed in early morning &
• Like open areas for feeding, mating &
• Forested areas are used as cover from
  predators & night roosting sites
• A varied habitat of both open &
  covered areas is essential for wild
  turkey survival
• Pittman-Robertson Act helped restore
  wild turkeys & habitat
• The rocket net allowed wildlife
  agencies to trap & relocate wild
• From 30,000 in the early 1900’s to
  over 7 million today
• Turkeys cannot overpopulate an area
  and strip it of available food since
  their diet varies
• Gobblers will mate with multiple hens
  in a season or day
• An abundance of hens can allow a
  population to recover from poor hatch
  years in as few as two years
Predator-Prey Relationship
• Survival of the fittest
• Fit individuals maintain a healthy
  breeding population
• Turkey nests are the main target of
• Snakes, skunks, opossums, raccoons,
  rodents, dogs, coyotes & crows prey on
  nests of turkeys
• About ½ of turkey nests make it to
• Poults fall prey to hawks, owls, foxes
  & bobcats
• Few adults are taken by predators
  except in situations where the adults
  are in poor health
• Habitat quality also determines how a
  species will survive predators
• Early successional plant stages
  provide shelter for poults & nests
• Habitat quality & distribution is more
  important than the number of
     Turkey Information
• Largest of the North American game
• Adult males weigh between 16 & 24
• Adult females weigh between 8 & 10
• Largest wild turkey on record
  weighed 37 pounds
• Males: Iridescent red, green, copper,
  bronze & gold feathers
• Toms use bright colors for attracting
  females during breeding season
• Females: Drab, usually brown or gray
  feathers. Allow hens to camouflage &
  hide while nesting
           Color Phases
• 4 basic color phases
• Smokey gray color phase
• Melanistic color phase (all black)
• Erythritic color phase (reddish
• Albino color phase (very rare)
• Males: brightly colored, nearly
  featherless; during breeding season
  the head color will change between
  red, white & blue, often in a few
• Females: gray-blue with some small
  feathers for camouflage
• Carnucles: fleshy growths on the
  heads of males & females
• Snoods: fleshy protrubances which
  hang over their bills & can be
  extended or contracted at will
• Male snoods is much larger than
• Unsure of what the snoods are for but
  believed to be developed as a way to
  attract mates
• Cluster of long, hair-like feathers
  grown from the center of the chest,
  known as a beard
• On males, the average beard is 9” long
• 10-20 percent of hens will grow
• Longest beard on record is more than
  18” long
• Reddish orange in color
• Have 4 toes on each foot
• Males will grow large spurs on the
  back of their lower legs
• Bony spikes used for defense &
  establish dominance
• Can grow up to 2” long
• Longest spurs on record are 2 ¼” long
• Usually 12-15 inches long & banded at
  the tips
• Color bands will vary by subspecies
• Males will fan their tails to attract a
• Adult males can be distinguished from
  juvenile males by the length of tail
• Early 1900’s most wild turkey
  populations had been wiped out due to
  habitat destruction & commercial
• Turnaround began with Federal Aid
  in Wildlife Restoration Act
• Today more than 7 million wild
  turkeys roam North America with
  huntable populations in all states
  except Alaska
• Native to North America
• 5 subspecies:
  –   Eastern
  –   Osceola (Florida)
  –   Rio Grande
  –   Merriam’s
  –   Gould’s
       Eastern Subspecies
   (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris)
• Most common of the wild turkeys
• Ranges the entire eastern half of the
  United States & farthest north
• Found in hardwood & mixed forests
• Has been transplanted into
  California, Oregon & Washington
• Silvestris means “forest” turkey
• Tail feathers tipped with dark buff or
  chocolate brown
• Breast feathers tipped in black
• Toms may measure 4’ tall at maturity
  & weigh more than 20 pounds
• Hens may be nearly as tall but usually
  weigh between 8 & 12 pounds
     Osceola Subspecies
 (Melagris gallopavo osceola)
• Also known as the Florida wild turkey
• Found only in Florida
• Named for Seminole Chief Osceola
• Tail feathers tipped in brown
• Body feathers appear to have a green
  & red tint with less bronze than the
• Reproductive cycle begins slightly
  earlier than the Eastern
     Rio Grande Subspecies
(Melagris gallopavo intermedia)
• Native to the Central Plain States
• Similar in appearance to other
• Tail feathers are yellowish-buff or tan
  rather than medium or dark brown
• May be found up to 6,000 feet in
• Favors more open habitat than
• Considered a nomadic bird
• May form large flocks of several
  hundred birds during winter
• Known to travel 10 or more miles
  from winter roost sites to nesting
• Similar in size to the Osceola
• Disproportionately long legs
     Merriam’s Subspecies
 (Melagris gallopavo merriami)
• Found primarily in the Ponderosa
  Pine, western regions of the U.S.
• Historic range was Arizona, New
  Mexico & Colorado
• Has been successfully stocked into
  Nebraska, Washington, California &
• Habitat dependent
• Males easily distinguished from other
  subspecies by nearly white feathers on
  lower back & tail feather margins
• Closely resemble the Gould’s but tail
  margin is not as pure white nor is the
  margin of the tail tip quite as wide
• Comparable to the Eastern subspecies
  in size
• Has a blacker appearance with blue,
  purple & bronze reflections
• Appear to have a white rump
       Gould’s Subspecies
 (Melagris gallopavo mexicana)
• 5th but least known subspecies
• Found in portions of Arizona & New
  Mexico as well as northern Mexico
• A mountain bird
• Very small numbers along US/Mexico
  borders but abundant in
  northwestern Mexico
• Largest of the 5 subspecies
• Resembles the Merriam’s
• Have longer legs, larger feet & larger
  center tail feathers
• Have distinctive white tips on tail
• Body plumage is said to be somewhat
• Females are more purplish
        Ocellated Turkey
       (Melagris ocellata)
• Found only on the Yucatan Peninsula
• Exists in only a 50,000 square mile
• Males & females have similar
• Neither grow beards
• Have distinct eye-ring of bright red
  colored skin
• Legs are much shorter than North
  American subspecies
• Have longer & more pronounced
  spurs than N.A. gobblers
• Significantly smaller; males weigh 11-
  12 pounds & females weigh 6-7