Wild Turkey Breeds – Species | Description | Behavior | Habitat

wild turkey breeds

There are several wild turkey breeds getting popular over time for their unique characteristics, behavior, productivity, and values. In this article, I am going to give an overview of wild turkey breeds.

Wild turkey breeds

The wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is an upland floor bird native to North America, one in all two extant species of turkey, and the heaviest member of the varied Galliformes.

It’s a similar species because of the home turkey, which was initially derived from a southern Mexican subspecies of untamed turkey (not the associated ocellated turkey).

Though native to North America, the turkey in all probability acquired its title from the domesticated selection being imported to Britain in ships coming from the Levant through Spain.

The British on the time due to this fact related the wild turkey with the nation Turkey and the title prevails.

An alternate idea posits that one other bird, a guinea fowl native to Madagascar launched to England by Turkish retailers, was the unique supply and that the time period was then transferred to the New World bird by English colonizers with knowledge of the all previous species.

Wild turkey breeds Subspecies

There are delicate variations within the coloration, habitat, and habits of the completely different subspecies of wild turkey breeds. The six subspecies of wild turkey breeds are:

1. Gould’s wild turkey (M. g. mexicana)

Native from the central valleys to the northern mountains of Mexico and the southernmost components of Arizona and New Mexico.

Gould’s wild turkeys are closely protected and controlled. The subspecies was first described in 1856.

They exist in small numbers within the U.S. however are considerable in northwestern parts of Mexico.

A small inhabitant has been established in southern Arizona. Gould’s are the biggest of the six subspecies.

They’ve long legs, bigger ft, and longer tail feathers. The principal colors of the physique feathers are copper and greenish-gold. This subspecies is closely protected owing to its skittish nature and threatened to stand.

2. South Mexican wild turkey (M. g. gallopavo)

The south Mexican wild turkey is taken into account the nominated subspecies and the one that’s not present in the USA or Canada.

In central Mexico, archaeological M. gallopavo bones have been recognized at websites courting to 800–100 BC.

It’s unclear whether or not these early specimens symbolize wild or home people, however, home turkeys have been seemingly established in central Mexico by the primary half of the Basic Interval (c. AD 200–1000).

Late Preclassic (300 BC–AD 100) turkey stays recognized on the archaeological site of El Mirador (Petén, Guatemala) symbolize the earliest proof of the export of the south Mexican wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo gallopavo) to the traditional Maya world.

The south Mexican wild subspecies, M. g. gallopavo, were domesticated both in Mexico or by Preclassic peoples in Mesoamerica, giving rise to the home turkey (M. g. domesticus).

The Spaniards introduced this tamed subspecies again to Europe with them within the mid-16th century; from Spain it unfolds to France and later Britain as a farmyard animal, often turning into the centerpiece of a feast for the well-to-do.

By 1620 it was frequently sufficient in order that Pilgrim settlers of Massachusetts may deliver turkeys with them from England, unaware that it had a bigger shut relative already occupying the forests of Massachusetts.

It is, without doubt, one of the smallest subspecies and is finest identified in Spanish from its Aztec-derived title, guajolote.

This wild turkey subspecies is considered critically endangered, as of 2010.

3. Rio Grande wild turkey (M. g. intermedia)

The Rio Grande wild turkey ranges via Texas to Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Oregon, Utah, and was launched to central and western California, in addition to components of some northeastern states.

Rio Grande wild turkey breeds were additionally launched to Hawaiʻi within the late 1950s. Inhabitants estimates for this subspecies are around 1,000,000.

This subspecies, native to the central plain states, was first described in 1879 and has comparatively lengthy legs, higher tailored to a prairie habitat.

Its body feathers usually have a green-coppery sheen. The information of the tail and decrease again feathers are a buff-to-very mild tan coloration.

Its habitats are brush areas subsequent to streams, rivers or mesquite, pine, and scrub oak forests. The Rio Grande turkey is gregarious.

4. Eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris)

This was the turkey subspecies Europeans first encountered within the wild: by the Puritans, the founders of Jamestown, the Dutch who lived in New York, and by the Acadians.

Its vary is, without doubt, one of the largest of all subspecies, masking your entire jap half of the USA from Maine within the north to northern Florida and increasing as far west as Minnesota, Illinois, and into Missouri.

In Canada, its vary extends into Southeastern Manitoba, Ontario, Southwestern Quebec (together with Pontiac, Quebec, and the decrease half of the Western Quebec Seismic Zone), and the Maritime Provinces.

The quantity from 5.1 to 5.3 million birds. They have been first named ‘forest turkey’ in 1817 and may develop as much as 4 ft (1.2 m) tall.

The higher tail coverts are tipped with chestnut brown. Males can attain 30 lb (14 kg) in weight.

The eastern wild turkey is closely hunted within the Jap USA and is probably the most hunted wild turkey subspecies.

5. Osceola wild turkey or Florida wild turkey (M. g. osceola)

Commonest within the Florida peninsula, the quantity from 80,000 to 100,000 birds. This chicken is called for the well-known Seminole chief Osceola, and was first described in 1890.

It’s smaller and darker than the jap wild turkey. The wing feathers are very darkish with smaller quantities of white barring seen on different subspecies.

Their general physique feathers are an iridescent green-purple coloration. They’re usually present in scrub patches of palmetto and infrequently close to swamps, the place amphibian prey is considerable. Osceola turkeys are the smallest subspecies weighing 16 to 18 kilos (7 to eight kg).

6. Merriam’s wild turkey (M. g. merriami)

The Merriam’s wild turkey ranges via the Rocky Mountains and the neighboring prairies of Wyoming, Montana, and South Dakota, in addition to a lot of the excessive mesa nation of New Mexico, Arizona, southern Utah, and The Navajo Nation, with quantity from 334,460 to 344,460 birds. The subspecies has additionally been launched into Oregon.

The preliminary releases of Merriam’s turkeys in 1961 resulted in establishing remnant inhabitants of Merriam’s turkeys alongside the east-slope of Mt. Hood and pure immigration of turkeys from Idaho has established Merriam’s flocks alongside the jap border of Oregon.

Merriam’s wild turkeys dwell in ponderosa pine and mountainous areas. The subspecies was named in 1900 in honor of Clinton Hart Merriam, the primary chief of the U.S. Organic Survey.

The tail and decrease again feathers have white ideas and purple and bronze reflections.

Wild turkey breeds Description

Grownup wild turkeys have lengthy reddish-yellow to grayish-green legs.

The wild turkey breeds body feathers are usually blackish and darkish, generally gray-brown general with a coppery sheen that turns into extra advanced in grownup males.

Grownup males, known as toms or gobblers, have a big, featherless, reddish head, red throat, and pink wattles on the throat and neck.

The top has fleshy growths known as caruncles. Juvenile males are known as jakes; the distinction between a grownup male and a juvenile is that the jake has a really brief beard and his tail fan has longer feathers within the center.

The grownup wild turkey breeds male’s tail fan feathers might be all the identical size. When males are excited, a fleshy flap on the invoice expands, and this, the wattles and the naked pores and skin of the top and neck all grow to be engorged with blood, nearly concealing the eyes and invoice. The lengthy fleshy object over a male’s beak is named a snood.

Every foot has three toes in the entrance, with a shorter, rear-facing toe in again; males have a spur behind every of their decrease legs.

Male turkeys have an extended, darkish, fan-shaped tail and shiny bronze wings. As with many different species of the Galliformes, turkeys exhibit sturdy sexual dimorphism.

The male wild turkey breeds are considerably bigger than the feminine, and his feathers have areas of red, purple, inexperienced, copper, bronze, and gold iridescence.

The preen gland (uropygial gland) can be bigger in male turkeys in comparison with feminine ones. In distinction to the vast majority of different birds, they’re colonized by bacteria of unknown operate (Corynebacterium uropygiale).

Females, known as hens, have feathers that might be duller general, in shades of brown and grey. Parasites can uninterest the coloration of each sex; in males, coloration might function as a sign of well-being. The first wing feathers have white bars. Turkeys have 5000 to 6000 feathers.

Tail feathers are of identical size in adults, with completely different lengths in juveniles.

Males usually have a “beard”, a tuft of coarse hair (modified feathers) rising from the middle of the breast. Beards common 230 mm (9.1 in) in size.

In some populations, 10 to 20% of females have a beard, often shorter and thinner than that of the male.

The grownup male (or “tom”) usually weighs from 5 to 11 kg (11 to 24 lb) and measures 100–125 cm (39–49 in) in size.

The grownup feminine (or “hen”) is often a lot smaller at 2.5–5.4 kg (5.5–11.9 lb) and is 76 to 95 cm (30 to 37 in) lengthy.

Per two giant research, the common weight of grownup males is 7.6 kg (17 lb) and the common weight of grownup females is 4.26 kg (9.4 lb).

The wings are comparatively small, as is typical of the galliform order, and the wingspan ranges from 1.25 to 1.44 m (Four ft 1 into Four ft 9 in).

The wing chord is simply 20 to 21.Four cm (7.9 to 8.4 in).

The bill can be comparatively small, as adults measure 2 to three.2 cm (0.79 to 1.26 in) in culmen size.

The tarsus of the wild turkey is sort of lengthy and durable, measuring from 9.7 to 19.1 cm (3.eight to 7.5 in). The tail can be comparatively lengthy, starting from 24.5 to 50.5 cm (9.6 to 19.9 in).

The record-sized grownup male wild turkey, based on the Nationwide Wild Turkey Federation, weighed 16.85 kg (37.1 lb), with data of tom turkeys weighing over 13.eight kg (30 lb) unusual however not uncommon.

Whereas it’s often slightly lighter than the waterfowl, after the trumpeter swan (Cygnus buccinator), the turkey has the second heaviest most weight of any North American chicken.

Happening common mass, a number of different birds on the continent, together with the American white pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos), the tundra swan (Cygnus columbianus columbianus), and the very uncommon California condor (Gymnogyps californianus), and the whooping crane (Grus americana) surpass the implied weight of turkeys.

Wild turkey breeds Habitat

Wild turkey breeds desire hardwood and blended conifer-hardwood forests with scattered openings resembling pastures, fields, orchards, and seasonal marshes.

They seemingly can adapt to just about any dense native plant group so long as protection and openings are broadly accessible.

Open, mature forests with a wide range of interspersion of tree species seem like the most popular. Within the Northeast of North America, turkeys are most profuse in hardwood timber of oak-hickory (Quercus-Carya) and forests of pink oak (Quercus rubra), beech (Fagus grandifolia), cherry (Prunus serotina), and white ash (Fraxinus americana).

The greatest ranges for turkeys within the Coastal Plain and Piedmont sections have an interspersion of clearings, farms, and plantations with the most popular habitat alongside principal rivers and in cypress (Taxodium distichum) and tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica) swamps.

In Appalachian and Cumberland plateaus, birds occupy a blended forest of oaks and pines on southern and western slopes, additionally hickory with various understories.

Bald cypress and candy gum (Liquidambar styraciflua) swamps of s. Florida; additionally hardwood of Cliftonia (a heath) and oak in north-central Florida.

Lykes Fisheating Creek space of s. Florida has as much as 51% cypress, 12% hardwood hammocks, 17% glades of brief grasses with remoted dwell oak (Quercus virginiana); nesting in neighboring prairies.

Authentic habitat right here was primarily longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) with turkey oak (Quercus laevis) and slash pine (Pinus caribaea) “flatwoods,” now primarily changed by slash pine plantations.

wild turkey breeds

Wild turkey breeds Behavior


Regardless of their weight, wild turkeys, not like their domesticated counterparts, are agile, quick fliers. In the best habitat of open woodland or wooded grasslands, they could fly beneath the cover prime and discover perches. They often fly near the bottom for not more than 400 m (1 / 4 mile).

Wild turkeys have superb eyesight, however, their imaginative and prescient may be very poor in the evening.

They won’t see a predator till it’s too late. At twilight most turkeys will head for the timber and roost effectively off the bottom, as much as 16 meters: it’s safer to sleep there in numbers than to threat being a sufferer to predators who hunt by evening.

As a result of wild turkeys do not migrate, in snowier components of the species’ habitat just like the Northeast, Rockies, a lot of Canada, and the Midwest, it is extremely vital for this chicken to be taught to pick out giant conifer timber the place they’ll fly onto the branches and shelter from blizzards.

Wild turkey breeds Vocalizations

Turkeys have many vocalizations: “gobbles”, “clucks”, “putts”, “purrs”, “yelps”, “cutts”, “whines”, “cackles”, and “kee-kees”. In early spring, males older than 1-year-old (generally known as gobblers or toms) and, often to a lesser extent, males younger than 1-year-old (generally known as jakes) gobble to announce their presence to females and competing males.

Wild turkey breeds Foraging

Wild turkey breeds are omnivorous, foraging on the bottom or climbing shrubs and small timber to feed.

They like consuming acorns, nuts, and different arduous mast of assorted timber, together with hazel, chestnut, hickory, and pinyon pine in addition to varied seeds, berries resembling juniper and bearberry, roots, and bugs.

Turkeys additionally often devour amphibians and small reptiles resembling lizards and small snakes. Poults have been noticed consuming bugs, berries, and seeds.

Wild turkeys usually feed in cow pastures, generally go to again yard chicken feeders, and favor croplands after harvest to scavenge seeds on the bottom.

Turkeys are additionally identified to eat all kinds of grasses.

Turkey populations can attain giant numbers in small areas due to their skill to forage for several types of meals.

Early morning and late afternoon are the specified occasions for consumption.

Social construction and mating

Males are polygamous, mating with as many hens as they’ll. Male wild turkeys show for females by puffing out their feathers, spreading out their tails, and dragging their wings.

These habits are mostly known as strutting. Their heads and necks are colored brilliantly with pink, white, and blue.

The color can change with the turkey’s temper, with a stable white head and neck being probably the most excited.

They use gobbling, drumming/booming, and spitting as indicators of social dominance, and to draw females.

Courtship begins through the months of March and April, which is when turkeys are nonetheless flocked collectively in winter areas.

Males could also be seen courting in teams, usually with the dominant male gobbling, spreading his tail feathers (strutting), drumming/booming and spitting.

In research, the common dominant male that courted as a part of a pair of males fathered six extra eggs than males that courted alone.

Genetic evaluation of pairs of males courting collectively reveals that they’re shut family members, with half of their genetic materials being similar.

The speculation behind the team-courtship is that the much less dominant male would have a better probability of passing alongside shared genetic materials than if it has been courting alone.

When mating is completed, females seek nest websites.

Nests are shallow filth depressions engulfed with woody vegetation.

Hens lay a clutch of 10–14 eggs, often one per day.

The eggs are incubated for at the very least 28 days. The poults are precocial and nidifugous, leaving the nest in about 12–24 hours.

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Wild turkey breeds Range and inhabitants

The wild turkey in the USA in 1957 ranged from Arizona to southeastern Oklahoma and thence via Tennessee, West Virginia, and New York, and south to Florida and Texas.

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

The A.O.U. Guidelines additionally described Higher Pliocene fossils in Kansas, and Pleistocene fossils broadly from New Mexico to Pennsylvania and Florida.

The Californian turkey, Meleagris california, is an extinct species of turkey indigenous to the Pleistocene and early Holocene of California. It turned extinct about 10,000 years in the past.

The current Californian wild turkey inhabitants derive from wild birds re-introduced through the 1960s and 70s from different areas by game officers.

They proliferated after 2000 to grow to be an on a regular basis sight within the East Bay Space by 2015.


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