Turkey Day – Terrific Facts About Wild Turkeys!


Thanksgiving is on the way.

It is almost Thanksgiving or turkey day as I like to think of it.  Here are some fun facts about wild turkeys.

Most Americans like to celebrate Thanksgiving by having a nice meal with the family.  That meal almost always includes a tasty turkey.  Most of the year I don’t think much about turkeys, but this holiday gets me thinking about these birds.  Did you know that there are now wild turkeys in most states, including the Rocky Mountain states?

About Wild Turkeys

They are large, plump birds with a small head at the top of a long neck.  They tend to live in forests, but also near the edges of fields and meadows with forest nearby.

turkeyWild Turkeys In The Past and Today

These birds are native to North America.  In the 1500s European explorers brought them back to Europe from Mexico.  Since that time they have been very popular to eat.

They became very popular to eat and their population declined dramatically.

Since most birds eaten now are raised birds as opposed to wild ones the population of wild turkeys has increased.  Between 1966 and 2014 the wild turkey populations increased sharply.  Now there are wild turkeys in all US States except for Alaska.

turkey, bird

A male turkey, strutting his stuff.

Fun Facts About The Wild Turkey

They spend most of their time during the day on the ground searching for food.  They walk around scratching at the ground, looking for nuts, berries, insects, and snails.  But, at night they fly up into trees and roost (a roost is a resting spot for birds at night) in groups.

In the spring, like many other animals, the males will do a lot to attract a female.  The males puff themselves out to look big and gobble away in order to attract a female.  Read this other post about bird courtship behaviors.

turkey, birdWhen babies are born the father provides no help.  Rather, the babies follow the mother around while she feeds them for the first few days before they learn to feed on their own.

They build nests on the ground at the base of trees, under thick shrubs, or sometimes in an open field.  A female will scratch out a shallow depression, about 1 inch deep and around 9 inches across.  She will lay from 4-17 eggs, which she will sit on for about 30 days until they hatch.

Turkeys don’t do it often, but they are able to swim if they need to.

They mostly walk, but they can fly.  When they are threatened, the females tend to fly and the males tend to run away.

wild turkey

Male wild turkeys travel in flocks outside of the breeding season.

Wild turkeys travel in flocks most of the time.  Outside of the breeding season the males hang out with other males in flocks and the females stay together.  The females are the ones taking care of the babies and they form large flocks of young birds with several adult females.