Wild turkey

wild turkey

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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 from the domesticated variety being imported to Britain in ships coming from the Levant via Spain.

The British at the time therefore associated the wild turkey with the country Turkey and the name prevails. Adult wild turkeys have long reddish-yellow to grayish-green legs.

The body feathers are generally blackish and dark, sometimes grey brown overall with a coppery sheen that becomes more complex in adult males.

Adult males, called toms or gobblers, have a large, featherless, reddish head, red throat, and red wattles on the throat and neck.

The head has fleshy growths called caruncles. Juvenile males are called jakes; the difference between an adult male and a juvenile is that the jake has a very short beard and his tail fan has longer feathers in the middle.

The adult male's tail fan feathers will be all the same length. The long fleshy object over a male's beak is called a snood.

Each foot has three toes in front, with a shorter, rear-facing toe in back; males have a spur behind each of their lower legs.

Male turkeys have a long, dark, fan-shaped tail and glossy bronze wings. As with many other species of the Galliformes , turkeys exhibit strong sexual dimorphism.

The male is substantially larger than the female, and his feathers have areas of red, purple, green, copper, bronze, and gold iridescence.

The preen gland uropygial gland is also larger in male turkeys compared to female ones. In contrast to the majority of other birds, they are colonized by bacteria of unknown function Corynebacterium uropygiale.

Parasites can dull coloration of both sexes; in males, coloration may serve as a signal of health. Turkeys have to feathers. Males typically have a "beard", a tuft of coarse hair modified feathers growing from the center of the breast.

The adult female or "hen" is typically much smaller at 2. The wing chord is only 20 to The bill is also relatively small, as adults measure 2 to 3.

The tail is also relatively long, ranging from Going on average mass, several other birds on the continent, including the American white pelican Pelecanus erythrorhynchos , the tundra swan Cygnus columbianus columbianus and the very rare California condor Gymnogyps californianus and whooping crane Grus americana surpass the mean weight of turkeys.

On one hand, none of these other species are as sexually dimorphic in size as the wild turkey, but on the other, they are also far less numerous and are not legally hunted unlike the turkey, thousands of which are weighed every year during hunting season.

Wild turkeys prefer hardwood and mixed conifer -hardwood forests with scattered openings such as pastures , fields , orchards and seasonal marshes.

They seemingly can adapt to virtually any dense native plant community as long as coverage and openings are widely available. Open, mature forest with a variety of interspersion of tree species appear to be preferred.

In the Northeast of North America, turkeys are most profuse in hardwood timber of oak - hickory Quercus - Carya and forests of red oak Quercus rubra , beech Fagus grandifolia , cherry Prunus serotina and white ash Fraxinus americana.

Best ranges for turkeys in the Coastal Plain and Piedmont sections have an interspersion of clearings, farms, and plantations with preferred habitat along principal rivers and in cypress Taxodium distichum and tupelo Nyssa sylvatica swamps.

In Appalachian and Cumberland plateaus , birds occupy mixed forest of oaks and pines on southern and western slopes, also hickory with diverse understories.

Bald cypress and sweet gum Liquidambar styraciflua swamps of s. Florida ; also hardwood of Cliftonia a heath and oak in north-central Florida.

Lykes Fisheating Creek area of s. Original habitat here was mainly longleaf pine Pinus palustris with turkey oak Quercus laevis and slash pine Pinus caribaea "flatwoods," now mainly replaced by slash pine plantations.

Despite their weight, wild turkeys, unlike their domesticated counterparts , are agile fliers. In ideal habitat of open woodland or wooded grasslands, [19] they may fly beneath the canopy top and find perches.

They usually fly close to the ground for no more than m a quarter mile. Turkeys have many vocalizations: In early spring, males older than 1-year-old sometimes called gobblers or toms and, occasionally to a lesser extent, males younger than 1-year-old sometimes called jakes gobble to announce their presence to females and competing males.

The gobble can carry for up to a mile. Males also emit a low-pitched "drumming" sound; produced by the movement of air in the air sack in the chest, similar to the booming of a prairie chicken.

In addition they produce a sound known as the "spit" which is a sharp expulsion of air from this air sack. Hens "yelp" to let gobblers know their location.

Gobblers often yelp in the manner of females, and hens can gobble, though they rarely do so. Immature males, called jakes, often yelp.

Wild turkeys are omnivorous , foraging on the ground or climbing shrubs and small trees to feed. They prefer eating acorns , nuts and other hard mast of various trees, including hazel , chestnut , hickory , and pinyon pine as well as various seeds , berries such as juniper and bearberry , roots and insects.

Turkeys also occasionally consume amphibians and small reptiles such as lizards and snakes. Poults have been observed eating insects, berries, and seeds.

Wild turkeys often feed in cow pastures , sometimes visit back yard bird feeders, and favor croplands after harvest to scavenge seeds on the ground.

Turkeys are also known to eat a wide variety of grasses. Turkey populations can reach large numbers in small areas because of their ability to forage for different types of food.

Early morning and late afternoon are the desired times for eating. Males are polygamous , mating with as many hens as they can.

Male wild turkeys display for females by puffing out their feathers, spreading out their tails and dragging their wings. This behavior is most commonly referred to as strutting.

Their heads and necks are colored brilliantly with red, white, and blue. The color can change with the turkey's mood, with a solid white head and neck being the most excited.

Courtship begins during the months of March and April, which is when turkeys are still flocked together in winter areas. In a study, the average dominant male that courted as part of a pair of males fathered six more eggs than males that courted alone.

Genetic analysis of pairs of males courting together shows that they are close relatives, with half of their genetic material being identical.

The theory behind the team-courtship is that the less dominant male would have a greater chance of passing along shared genetic material than if it were courting alone.

When mating is finished, females search for nest sites. Nests are shallow dirt depressions engulfed with woody vegetation.

Hens lay a clutch of 10—14 eggs, usually one per day. The eggs are incubated for at least 28 days. The poults are precocial and nidifugous , leaving the nest in about 12—24 hours.

Predators of eggs and nestlings include raccoons Procyon lotor , Virginia opossums Didelphis virginiana , striped skunks Mephitis mephitis , gray foxes Urocyon cinereoargenteus , groundhogs Marmota monax , other rodents and spotted skunks Spilogale ssp.

Predators of both adults and poults include coyotes Canis latrans , [32] gray wolves Canis lupus , [33] bobcats Lynx rufus , [34] cougars Puma concolor , [35] golden eagles Aquila chrysaetos [36] and possibly American black bears Ursus americanus.

Occasionally, if cornered, adult turkeys may try to fight off predators and large male toms can be especially aggressive in self-defense.

When fighting off predators, turkeys may kick with their legs, using the spurs on their back of the legs as a weapon, bite with their beak and ram with their relatively large bodies and may be able to deter predators up to the size of mid-sized mammals.

They also have been seen to chase off humans as well. However, attacks can usually be deterred and minor injuries can be avoided by giving turkeys a respectful amount of space and keeping outdoor spaces clean and undisturbed.

It formerly ranged north to southeastern South Dakota , southern Wisconsin , southern Ontario , and southwestern Maine.

It became extinct about 10, years ago. The present Californian wild turkey population derives from wild birds re-introduced during the s and 70s from other areas by game officials.

At the beginning of the 20th century the range and numbers of wild turkeys had decreased due to hunting and loss of habitat. Game managers estimate that the entire population of wild turkeys in the United States was as low as 30, by the late s.

Game officials made efforts to protect and encourage the breeding of the surviving wild population, and some trapped birds were relocated to new areas, including some in the western states where it was not native.

There is evidence that the bird does well when near farmland, which provides grain and also berry-bearing shrubs at its edges.

In , the total U. In recent years, "trap and transfer" projects have reintroduced wild turkeys to several provinces of Canada as well, sometimes from across the border in the United States.

Attempts to introduce the wild turkey to Britain as a game bird in the 18th century were not successful. They were hunted with dogs and then shot out of trees where they took refuge.

Several other populations, introduced or escaped, have survived for periods elsewhere in Britain and Ireland , but seem to have died out, perhaps from a combination of lack of winter feed and poaching.

There are subtle differences in the coloration, habitat, and behavior of the different subspecies of wild turkeys.

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Wild turkey -

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Wild Turkey Video

Nature: Wild Turkeys

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