Description: Males 48" and their average weight is 18 pounds. Their breast feathers are black-tipped with iridescent hues of blues and reds, a means of identification. Mature males are called Toms, imature males are called Jakes.
Females 36" and their average weight is 8 pounds. Their breast feathers are buff-tipped, therefore rusty looking. Females are called Hens.
They are similar to the domestic turkey but more slender.
|Snood: The flap of skin
hanging down beak.
Wattle: The bumpy skin on neck.
Beard: What looks like a beard on a turkey's chest is really a bundle of special long, thin feathers. Adult males and even some females have beards but scientists don't know what, if anything, they're used for.
Spurs: Males have spurs on each leg that curves upward in older birds and may be 1 1/4 in. long. They are used in fighting but rarely infllict injury.
|Voice: Familiar gobble with a number of
yelps and clucks.
Nest: A shallow leaf-lined depression concealed in vegetation on the forest floor.
Eggs: 10 - 15 buff-colored eggs, lightly spotted with brown and black.
|Habitat: Open woodlands and
forests with scattered clearings (either natural or man-made).
Range: For a time intense hunting seemed to be driving the turkey to extinction, but with habitat management, controlled hunting seasons and careful reintroduction, it has again become fairly common in many parts of its former range. It is locally common from Wyoming, Illinois, and northern New England to Mexico and the Gulf Coast.
Roost: Turkeys start resting in trees when they're about four weeks old. Since they are growing new feathers, they snuggle under mama's wing, tail or body to keep warm. One cold spring rain can kill them if they don't keep warm and dry. They often roost over water because of the added protection that this offers.
Running: Turkeys run more often than they fly. For short sprints they can dash up to 18 miles per hour - faster than an Olympic runner.
Flying: Turkeys are fantastic fliers for short distances. They can take-off like helicopters, going allmost straight up. And when they fly straight ahead, they go fast. A wild turkey was clocked at 55 miles per hour.
Flocking: Turkeys will usually spend the winter together in separate flocks, the hens in one and the toms in another. While in a flock they protect each other; at least one bird is always on the lookout for danger. It can signal the others if a predator comes.
Changing color: The male turkey turns the colors of the American flag. His head can turn shades of blue and his wattle can switch quickly from red to white and back again.
Showing-off: The male turkey's snood grows from 1 inch to 5 inches and the wattle fills up with blood. Then the turkey fluffs his feathers up and spreads his tail out wide. What's he doing??? He's trying to attract the attention of a female.
Courtesy of The Norcross Wildlife Foundation, Inc