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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

Did You Know? 19 Incredible Wild Turkey Facts

Wild turkey facts like they sleep on trees are interesting.

The wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is a type of ground bird native to the north and eastern American region and Mexico. They form one of two species of turkeys that are still in existence. Wild turkeys are a subspecies of turkeys found in Mexico. Other subspecies of wild turkey are eastern wild turkey, Rio Grande wild turkey, Osceola wild turkey, Gould’s wild turkey, South Mexican wild turkey, and Merriam’s wild turkey.

Another type is domesticated wild turkeys which are commonly known as game for meat to be eaten widely across America on Thanksgiving. Wild turkeys are omnivorous birds that feed on a wide variety of animals and vegetables such as salamanders, snails, slugs, spiders, nuts, berries, and plants. These birds are foraging birds and are commonly found in forest areas, grasslands, and swamps.

They commonly have greenish-gray legs, with a brown body that has dark-colored tail feathers. They have bald red heads and throats, both of which have wattles or caruncles. Caruncles are fleshy external growths common in turkeys.

Continue reading for more fascinating facts about the wild turkey. You may also check out our fact files on the white turkey and green peafowl from Kidadl.

Wild Turkey Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a wild turkey?

A wild turkey is a type of ground bird, known for its foraging nature. It is commonly found in the North American region.

What class of animal does a wild turkey belong to?

The wild turkey belongs to the class Aves.

How many wild turkeys are there in the world?

There are over 7,000,000 wild turkeys in the world. This number is continuing to grow.

Where does a wild turkey live?

A wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is commonly found in forests with nut trees such as oak, beech, and hickory. These birds are found in grasslands, swamps, open pastures, and fields.

What is a wild turkey's habitat?

They are foraging birds and so a wild turkey's habitat is usually at ground level looking for insects, small animals, berries, and nuts to eat. They prefer being surrounded by hardwood trees such as oak, beech, hickory, and generally in areas such as open fields, pastures, and forests.

Who do wild turkeys live with?

The wild turkey is known to be found in groups and they enjoy conversing with one another through loud sounds amidst trees and forests. The wild turkey communicates similar to humans and they have a vocabulary that contains over 28 types of calls. Males are known for their 'gobbles' which can be heard miles away.

How long does a wild turkey live?

The average lifespan of a wild turkey is anywhere between three and four years.

How do they reproduce?

Wild turkeys start the mating process once spring commences, usually around the period of March and April. Interestingly, their mating cycle can be impacted by fluctuations in the weather such as colder or warmer days.

Males make their signature gobbling sound and strut to attract the female. The hen then chooses the male for mating. Males tend to gobble and strut in groups, and they look to mate with as many females as possible.

Once the mating process is completed, the hens begin to look for potential nest sites in order to lay eggs. Approximately 10-12 eggs are laid over a period of two weeks in the nest, and the hens rarely leave their nest and eggs during this process.

The eggs are incubated in the nest within 24-48 days of this process after which they begin to hatch.

What is their conservation status?

Wild turkeys are commonly found in North American wildlife and they have a rapidly rising population. Current statistics indicate they have over 7,000,000 wild turkeys in the world. Therefore they do not consider a wild turkey a rare breed. Because of this, the conservation status of this species is Least Concern by the IUCN Red List.

There are several types of wild turkey. Other subspecies of wild turkey are Osceola wild turkey, eastern wild turkey, Merriam’s wild turkey, Rio Grande wild turkey, South Mexican wild turkey, and Gould’s wild turkey.

Wild Turkey Fun Facts

What do wild turkeys look like?

Wild turkeys have long grayish-green legs and brown bodies and tail feathers. These birds’ bodies tend to be covered in black or dark glossy feathers. They have bald red heads and long red necks that are covered with wattles. Wattles are a form of caruncles that hang from the body and neck of a turkey. Caruncles are a type of fleshy external growth that is commonly found in birds such as turkeys.

Adult males tend to be much larger than an adult female. Males have long tail feathers and glossy bronze wings. As with many other species in the animal kingdom, males are much more vibrant in color than females. An adult female has dull brown or gray feathers. Adult males also tend to have long modified feathers, similar to beards.

Wild turkeys are very intelligent.

How cute are they?

Wild turkeys have a very unique look with the male bird having vibrant feathers and wings, along with long beards. The female bird is duller. Therefore, in their natural habitat in wildlife, it is not common for you to find a turkey cute, but they do have a distinct look.

How do they communicate?

Wild turkeys are very noisy birds who communicate similar to the way humans do in wildlife. They have a vocabulary that has over 28 distinct calls. They are known to make conversation with each other using these loud sounds.

Male turkeys make a sound called the 'gobble' that can be heard over a mile away. A few examples of their vocabulary are 'gobbles', 'putts', 'yelps', 'whines', and 'cackles'. Male turkeys are far noisier than females. Females in wildlife make yelping sounds to alert their location to the males.

How big is a wild turkey?

Wild turkeys have a height comparable to that of a 6 ft (1.8 m) tall human being. These birds can weigh up to nearly the range of 24 lb (10.8 kg) and be of a size up to 45 in (114.3 cm). They also have a large wingspan which can range up to 57 in (144.7 cm).

How fast can a wild turkey run?

Unlike the domestic turkey, wild turkeys tend to be very fast despite their chunky bodies. These birds tend to run as far as a range of 0.2 mi (0.4 km) in one go.

How much does a wild turkey weigh?

Wild turkeys can weigh up to 24 lb (10.8 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Adult males of the species are called toms or gobbles. Younger males are referred to as Jakes. Females are simply referred to as hens.

What would you call a baby wild turkey?

A baby turkey is called a poult.

What do they eat?

Wild turkeys are omnivores in wildlife and it is common for them to eat both animals and vegetables. They tend to forage on the ground for small snakes, spiders, lizards, berries, nuts, and plants. However, there are many animals in wildlife that are predators to wild turkeys. Opossums, skunks, hawks, foxes, eagles, owls, and raccoons tend to target the eggs and poults. Predators of an adult wildlife turkey are bears, bobcats, wolves, and wild cats.

Are they aggressive?

The bird is only aggressive when threatened and acts in self-defense. If these birds feel cornered, they use their legs to kick, or beaks to bite, the predator.

Would they make a good pet?

Wild turkeys, as the name suggests, are not domesticated and are wild birds, therefore they will not make good pets. If you are interested in breeding turkeys, a viable option would be the domestic turkey.

Did you know...

Wild turkeys are very interesting birds. They have anywhere between the range of 5000-6000 feathers covering their bodies. Native Americans also use turkey feathers to help stabilize their arrows.

Benjamin Franklin openly advocated for wild turkeys to be voted the national bird of the United States instead of the bald eagle. The bald eagle is the American national bird.

Do people eat wild turkey?

People eat the domesticated version of the wild turkey called the domestic game turkey and not the wild birds. Turkey is considered the main dish for the US Holiday of Thanksgiving. Turkey is similar to chicken both in the manner in which it is cooked and in its taste. Wild turkeys don't taste good as their meat is darker and firmer, unlike their domesticated counterparts.

How smart are wild turkeys?

Wild turkeys are wild birds that are considered to be intelligent creatures. Wild turkeys have keen eyesight and excellent hearing. They can also run very fast up to the range of 20 mph (32.1 kph). Turkeys also have a vast vocabulary for communication similar to humans.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these peahen facts and marbled murrelet facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our turkey coloring pages.

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