Are wild turkeys not the ugliest birds you have ever laid eyes on? At least I think so. It is the face that kills me. A face only a mother could love.
But, they are big, beefy, and run pretty funny. The only thing I can say that is pretty, or should I say – pretty special is the way they fan their feathers during mating season, now there is a plus! That is pure beauty!
General Info For Wild Turkeys
|Male: 2½ to 3 feet tall and are 3 to 4 feet long.
Females: are about one-third shorter and weigh half as much.
|Like a mix of forested areas and actively search farmland habitat types.
|90 percent of the diet is greens, shoots, tubers, fruits, seedheads, flowers & bulbs, and nuts that fall from trees. Insects are a good protein source: Eastern harvestmen, grasshoppers, beetles, weevils, damselflies, ants, and larvae.
Gobblers and Hens
The wild turkey looks much like the domesticated, except the wild bird is slimmer, has a smaller head, a longer neck, and smaller head and neck adornments. Tail feathers and tail coverts are tipped chestnut brown on wild birds, white on domesticated ones.
The plumage on wild turkeys is an overall rich brown. In shadows, turkeys appear black; in bright sunlight, their feathers gleam with copper, blue, green, and mahogany highlights.
Gobbler or Tom
Adult males, also called gobblers or toms, stand 2½ to 3 feet tall and are 3 to 4 feet long (average 16 pounds). Gobblers have spurs — sharp, bony spikes on the backs of their legs that are used in fighting.
Adult females, or hens, are about one-third shorter and weigh about half as much (average 9 pounds) as males.
A hen’s plumage is duller and her breast feathers end in a brown band, while those of a gobbler is tipped with black. The heads of hens are bluish-gray, and their necks may appear somewhat pink.
Breeding and Mating of The Wild Turkey
Near the end of March, a male turkey changes physically.
His fleshy crown swells and turns pale, his wattles redden and hang from his head.
The colors of his head and neck change quickly from red to blue, purple and white.
If hens are present, a gobbler will display by fanning his tail, erecting his feathers, and tucking his head back against his body.
He will strut back and forth, hissing and dragging his wingtips on the ground.
It is not uncommon for a gobbler to have a hareem of hens circling him. The males mate with many females over the season.
|In late April, mated females slip away from the flock. They choose nesting spots in wooded or brushy areas, near water sources, and usually close to forest clearings or old fields. Nests are depressions in the ground that are normally lined with leaves.
|A hen lays an egg nearly every day until her nest contains 8 to 15 eggs. The eggs are pale buff and have reddish-brown spots or fine dots.
|Hen Raises Them:
|The hen builds the nest, lays the eggs, incubates, and raises young.
|Young Are Called:
|The term for baby turkey is poult.
|The hen cares for the poults for at least two weeks, until their wings develop and they can roost in trees. When poults are about 3 weeks old, several groups might merge to form a flock.