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Wild Turkey - BirdForum Opus

Male displaying
Photo © by Screech
Meleagris gallopavo


Male 100–125 cm (39½-49¼ in); Female 76–95 cm (30-37½ in)

  • Featherless, red head and throat
  • Long red-orange to grey-blue legs
  • Dark-brown to black body
  • The head has fleshy growths.
  • Males have red wattles on the throat and neck and rear spurs on their lower legs.
  • Long, dark, fan-shaped tail and glossy bronze wings.
  • Female feathers are duller overall, in shades of brown and grey.


Photo © by blue185jay
Tennessee, USA, June 2014

Rare color morphs or forms do occur, such as Smoke-phase Turkey.


Southernmost Canada, United States to central Mexico. As an introduced species it occurs in Hawaii, New Zealand, Germany, and the Czech Republic.

Due to hunting and other pressures, wild turkeys were in serious decline at the beginning of the 20th Century, but with conservation measures and management, have rebounded to a healthy population. They are still hunted throughout the U.S.


Photo © by Marysan
Mesa Grande Road, Lake Henshaw, California, 14 February 2006


Six subspecies are recognized:[1]

  • M. g. silvestris - Central and eastern USA
  • M. g. osceola - Florida (local)
  • M. g. intermedia - North Texas to east-central Mexico
  • M. g. merriami - Western USA
  • M. g. mexicana - Sierra Madre mountains, central Mexico
  • M. g. gallopavo - Southern Mexico (Jalisco to Veracruz and south to Guerrero)

Three additional subspecies, fera, onusta and ellioti are generally considered invalid[2]


Smoke Morph
Photo © by Tom Lusk
Ontario, Canada, 5 October 2020

Woods, open woods, fields, pastures, and shrubby growth.


Forages in small flocks, moving continuously over fairly large areas in search for food.


Grass and sedges, berries, seeds, insects and mast, depending on seasonal availability.


The nest is a shallow scrape covered with woody vegetation. The eggs are usually laid at a rate of 1 per day, the clutch consisting of 10-14 eggs. Incubation lasts for at least 28 days. Males are polygamous, mating with as many females as they can.


They make a variety of sounds, including the distinctive, loud gobble-gobble-gobble, which carries for considerable distance.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Lepage D. (2020) - Avibase. Retrieved 9 October 2020
  3. McRoberts, J. T., M. C. Wallace, and S. W. Eaton (2020). Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.wiltur.01
  4. Birdforum Thread discussing Smoke-phase Turkey

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