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    Wild Turkey

    ID Info
    Silhouette Game BirdsGame Birds

    Wild Turkey

    Meleagris gallopavo
    • ORDER: Galliformes
    • FAMILY: Phasianidae
    Basic Description

    Most North American kids learn turkey identification early, by tracing outlines of their hands to make Thanksgiving cards. These big, spectacular birds are an increasingly common sight the rest of the year, too, as flocks stride around woods and clearings like miniature dinosaurs. Courting males puff themselves into feathery balls and fill the air with exuberant gobbling. The Wild Turkey’s popularity at the table led to a drastic decline in numbers, but they have recovered and now occur in every state except Alaska.

    More ID Info
    image of range map for Wild TurkeyRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

    Find This Bird

    To find Wild Turkeys it helps to get up early in the morning, when flocks of these large birds are often out foraging in clearings, field edges, and roadsides. Keep an eye out as you drive along forest edges, particularly forests with nut-bearing trees such as oak and hickory, and you may even see turkeys from your car. In spring and summer, listen for gobbling males; the calls are loud, distinctive, and they carry great distances. You’ll usually find turkeys on the ground, but don’t be surprised if you run across a group of turkeys flying high into their treetop roosts at the end of the day.

    Other Names
    • Guajolote Norteño (Spanish)
    • Dindon sauvage (French)

    Backyard Tips

    If you have a large yard near woods, you can attract Wild Turkeys by planting nut-bearing or berry trees. Some people attract turkeys by scattering birdseed or corn on their lawns; just beware that this can also attract unwanted visitors such as rodents. Find out more about what this bird likes to eat and what feeder is best by using the Project FeederWatch Common Feeder Birds bird list.

    • Cool Facts