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Wild Turkey Meleagris gallopavo


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Wild Turkey, male
credit: Riki7

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Phasianidae, Pheasants and Grouse view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE Dark brown overall, but with a bronzy, greenish sheen on back, neck and underparts. Tail is reddish brown and proportionately long with chestnut feather tips, upper tail coverts, and rump feathers; these appear as concentric rings in fanned tail. Note tuft of feathers on breast. Head and upper neck are bare, bristly, and mainly blue, but red on throat. ADULT FEMALE Smaller and duller than male and lacks tuft of feathers on breast. JUVENILE Similar to adult female.

Dimensions Length: Male, 48" (1.2 m); female, 36" (91 cm)

Habitat Hunted to local extinction in many places by start of 20th century. Now locally common due to hunting regulations and breeding for release programs.

Observation Tips Easiest to find in spring, when males display noisily.

Range Texas, Mid-Atlantic, California, Florida, Great Lakes, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, Southeast, Northwest, Plains, New England, Western Canada, Eastern Canada

Voice Displaying male utters familiar gobbling call. All birds utter subdued clucking calls.

Discussion Unmistakable and iconic native bird. Male's display is impressive with puffed-up body feathers and fanned tail. Feeds mainly on seeds, fruits, nuts, and invertebrates. Sexes are dissimilar.