Meleagris gallopavo or the Wild Turkey is a common North American bird found all over the continental United States.
Turkeys can be found all over the country in pretty high numbers but this wasn’t always the case. There was a time where turkeys were severely over hunted at the same time their habitat was being destroyed for human use. But in the 1940’s people began reintroduction programs to spread the population all over the country, which have been very successful. Through habitat protection and hunting limits the turkey’s population has remained steady.
These birds have many characteristics that make them unlike so many other North American birds. From their feathers, 5,000-6,000 for an adult to the males colorful heads and tail fans these birds are hard to misidentify. These birds are one of the largest North American birds standing at 3.6-3.8 feet tall, with an almost 5-foot wingspan! Most people think that because they see turkeys walking around that they cannot fly but they can fly up to 55 miles per hour! While people are a major predator of the Wild Turkey coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, Golden Eagles, and Great Horned Owls all prey upon them. When threatened females tend to fly away whereas the males will flee by running.
As their habitat becomes smaller Wild Turkeys will venture out into neighborhoods looking for food and people tend to create some conflicts with them. An easy way to keep out of trouble with turkeys is to make sure you aren’t feeding them either on purpose or because of a massy bird feeder area. To protect your garden you can use netting and cover any shiny or reflective surfaces to reduce aggression.
Now that you know a little bit more about Wild Turkeys say gobble gobble the next time you see one!