Wild Turkey

Meleagris gallopavo

Summary 7

The Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is native to North America and is the heaviest member of the diverse Galliformes. It is the same species as the domestic turkey, which was originally derived from a southern Mexican subspecies of Wild Turkey (not the related Ocellated Turkey). Although native to North America, the turkey probably got its name due to the domesticated variety being imported to Britain in ships coming from the Levant via Spain. The British at...

Meleagris gallopavo 8

An extremely large (36-48 inches) game bird, the Wild Turkey is most easily identified by its large size, bald bluish head, and iridescent black or brown body feathers. Male Wild Turkeys have large fan-like tails and red wattles on the neck, whereas females are much smaller and plainer. This species is nearly unmistakable among North America birds, although certain varieties of Domestic Turkey resemble their wild ancestors. The Wild Turkey is native to much of the eastern United States, southern Canada, and Mexico. However, its range has been in constant flux over the past 500 years as populations have locally been hunted to extinction or, conversely, introduced into new areas for sport shooting. Due to both factors, Wild Turkeys are absent from portions of the Atlantic Seaboard and upper Midwest but may be found locally in parts of the western U.S.where they did not occur before Europeans arrived in the New World. The Wild Turkey is the only native North American bird to be domesticated, and Domestic Turkeys are farmed around the world. Wild Turkeys inhabit a wide array of habitats, including deciduous woodland, dry scrub, and grassland. While this species is rarely found in urban or suburban areas, Wild Turkeys will visit agricultural fields and pastures. In fact, the ancestors of the Domestic Turkey likely became associated with humans through visiting maize fields in Mexico. This species primarily eats seeds, nuts, leaves, and insects. In forests, clearings, and more open habitats, it may be possible to observe Wild Turkeys standing or walking, singly or in small groups, while foraging for food. The male’s call, a series of “gobble” sounds, is familiar and identifying. Wild Turkeys are primarily active during the day.

Threat Status: Least concern

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) Per Verdonk, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC), http://www.flickr.com/photos/7551546@N08/3038308796
  2. (c) greglasley, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC), uploaded by Greg Lasley, http://www.inaturalist.org/photos/216547
  3. (c) Mary Keim, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5250/5352246869_62ce7fb879.jpg
  4. (c) parkbiologist222, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC), uploaded by Summit Metro Parks, http://www.inaturalist.org/photos/283279
  5. (c) parkbiologist222, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC), uploaded by Summit Metro Parks, http://www.inaturalist.org/photos/283280
  6. (c) BJ Stacey, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC), http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8326/8098884445_4d072dd8c6_o.jpg
  7. (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meleagris_gallopavo
  8. (c) Unknown, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), http://eol.org/data_objects/22710123

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