Wild Turkey
Meleagris gallopavo
Pheasant Family

Wild Turkey Hen
Photo courtesy Donna Bell, Flomaton, Alabama
Copyright (c) 2005 Donna Bell

Wild Turkey Goblers
Photo courtesy Donna Bell, Flomaton, Alabama

Photo courtesy Mike Carter, Pensacola, Florida
April 2010

Wild Turkey is an exceptionally large bird, attaining an overall height of 4 feet. Aside form its large size, the tail is long, with a black band near the tip. The male turkey is glossy brown, with a bare, pale bluish head and red wattles. The female is smaller and duller in color. Its preferred habitat is oak and mesquite brush, deciduous woodlands and wooded bottomlands.

In the breeding period, the male turkey puts on a spectacular display. He spreads his tail, swells out his wattles, and rattles his wings, gobbling and strutting the whole time. Wiped out in many areas by land development and unrestricted hunting, the species is making a comeback with the help of reintroductions and good management. Turkeys roost in trees and feed on the ground on insects, berries, seeds and nuts. The hens nest in leaf-lined hollows in brush or woodlands; they alone incubate the eggs, sometimes as many as 20 in a clutch. Wary and difficult to approach, turkeys can fly well for short distances but prefer to walk or run.

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