Have you ever wondered about wild turkey facts or general info on these creatures? Aside from just thinking about them for festive occasions like Thanksgiving in the US!
Wild turkeys are large birds with powerful legs, a fleshy lobe called a “wattle” that hangs from their chin, and a fan-shaped tail that are just amazing to look at.
Wild turkeys or “Meleagris gallopavo” if you want to be scientific about it, can be wild and crazy fun when you consider how unique and incredible these birds are. Almost anyone can spot a turkey from a mile away. They have very distinct features that make them who they are.
The question here is…
how much do you know about turkeys?
For bird watchers, birders, and regular people that are interested in turkeys, these wild turkey facts might surprise you and excite you! This article is chock full of fun, interesting and informative wild turkey facts.
Photo by ASHISH SHARMA from Pexels
History and General Facts on Wild Turkeys
Before we go into the fun facts about turkeys, here is some interesting trivia about the wild turkey’s history and how they became one of the most popular birds in North America.
- Turkeys have 45 million years of evolution under their wattle that separates them from the chickens that they are always compared with.
- In the early 1900s, they were nearly extinct as their numbers dropped to the lowest of 30,000 wild turkeys left. However, restoration programs have been working hard to bring up the numbers to up to 7 Million today.
- There are turkey sub-species that are all native to North America.
- Eastern Wild Turkeys were hunted and eaten by the pilgrims.
- M. Gallopavo Silvestris, mostly found and covers the eastern half of the United States and some parts of Canada. They are often called the forest turkeys and the most numerous of all the subspecies rounding up to about 5 Million.
- M. Gallopavo Gallopavo, a sub-species domesticated by the Aztecs called the south Mexican Turkey that was brought by the Spanish to Europe. Some of them were even brought by the pilgrims back to North America.
- An adult male wild turkey weighs an average of 16 to 22 pounds and has a beard of modified feathers on his breast that reaches seven inches or more long. They even have sharp spurs on his legs for fighting. A female wild turkey is smaller, and weighs around 8 to 12 pounds, and has no beard or spurs. Both genders have a “snood” which is a dangly appendage on the face, wattle, and only a few feathers on the head.
- There are studies that show that snood length is associated with the health of a male turkey. Additionally, a 1997 study in the Journal of Avian Biology stated that female turkeys prefer males with longer snoods and that snood length is also used to predict winners of a competition between two males.
Fun and Wild Turkey Facts
Now comes the fun part. Some of these facts are crazy wild and I bet you didn’t know it about them. Take a look at these facts and enjoy learning something new about the turkeys that we adore so much.
- Male turkeys are called toms or gobblers. Gobbler comes from the sound that they make which is the official sound that people know of.
- Females are known as hens and are smaller than gobblers.
- Young turkeys are called jakes. They have shorter tail feathers and a shorter beard than adult males.
- Baby turkeys, called poults, eat berries, seeds, and insects, while adults have a more varied diet that can include acorns and even small reptiles.
- Gobble isn’t the only sound that turkeys make. They also make sounds such as purrs, yelps, and kee-kees.
- Male turkeys can be pretty loud. If the day is quiet, you will hear the turkey’s call from a mile away.
- Turkey’s usually eat seeds, nuts, fruits, insects, and small lizards.
- A wild turkey’s wingspan can extend up to 6 feet. That fact makes them the largest bird in the open forest.
- Turkeys have amazing vision. Their eyes are located on opposite sides of their head allowing them to see wider. This also allows them objects on both sides of itself. It comes with a downside though, they have very poor depth perception. They can see better during the day.
- How do turkeys hear? They do not have external ear structures but they do have small holes located in their heads where sounds can enter. Aside from the vision, they can also pick up sounds from a mile away.
- As great as their vision and hearing are, they do not have a strong sense of smell. The part of their brain that comprehends smelling is smaller than most animals.
- Turkeys are usually found in forests, but they may also be found in grasslands and swamps.
- A turkey has between 5,000 and 6,000 feathers covering its body.
- Most of the feathers of a turkey are iridescent with varying colors such as red, bronze, gold, and green.
- Newly hatched turkeys leave the nest within 12 to 24 hours in order to feed. Mothers will feed the hatchlings for a short period before they must fend for themselves.
- Turkey feathers were used by Native Americans in order to stabilize their arrows.
- Wild Turkeys are one of the most popular game birds in North America. One of the things that prove this statement is that people have made many kinds of products that show the beauty of these animals.
- Turkeys sleep in trees to stay safe from predators at night
- There is one other species of turkey, the ocellated turkey (Meleagris ocellata), which can be found on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.
- A group of related male turkeys will band together to court females, though only one member of the group gets to mate.
- When a hen is ready to make little turkeys, she’ll lay about 10 to 12 eggs, one egg per day, over a period of about two weeks. The eggs will incubate for about 28 days before hatching.
- Droppings can indicate the gender of the turkey. Male wild turkeys produce spiral-shaped droppings while the females produce J-shaped droppings.
Looking for some fun Turkey products?
The artwork of turkeys is amazing and this one you have to see and hopefully get yourself. This panel is made from 3/16 thick pickled and oiled steel plates. It is of two wild turkeys watching a buck. It is a Balcony Panel that you can design your home with.
- Standard Option is a Flat Panel
- Bordered Option Comes with a flat bar border around the entire piece with drill holes on the sides
- Easy Fit Option comes with top and bottom railing (one by two tubing on top and bottom of panel) and a flat bar with drill holes on the sides.
- Powder coated in a low gloss black mini textured finish. Cut from 10 gauge thick pickled and oiled steel plate.
- Finish sanded on both sides prior to powder coating.Either side can be used for the front.
Here is a Wild Turkey Fleece Blanket that you can get on Amazon to warm up your day. You can choose from 3 sizes to accommodate your couch or bed.
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If you are interested in having turkey furniture and memorabilia, this Wild Turkey White Mug can spice up your morning coffee experience.
- THE PERFECT GIFT & EVERYDAY MUG: Start the morning off right! Our mugs make the ideal gift for any occasion and are the perfect addition to your souvenir collection. These durable coffee mugs are a clever conversation starter wherever hot beverages are served.
- PREMIUM QUALITY: Our stylish mugs are crafted from durable, high-quality ceramic and feature vibrant double sided graphics. They are microwave safe and hold up to 11oz of your favorite beverage.
- HAND WASH & EASY TO CLEAN: Our vivid, long-lasting UV and water-resistant ink means you'll be able to enjoy your new favorite mug for years to come. Due to our unique printing process our mugs must be hand washed. Not dishwasher safe.
- An officially licensed product of JQ Licensing. Artist Credit: Bob Schmidt
- A Graphics and More product.
Turkeys are amazing animals that have an even more amazing history. They were once hunted so much that they dropped down in numbers that almost made them extinct. Good thing that there are animal conservatory groups that worked so hard to keep these amazing animals and grow their numbers again.
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