Fascinating Wild Turkeys

Wild Turkeys
11/29/14

Wild Turkeys are large birds that live in flocks and can often be seen foraging by the roadside.  This fall I saw a flock of up to twenty female turkeys, but I haven’t been seeing them much recently, now that there is snow on the ground.  They are very peaceful birds, and like to root around under dead leaves. They are very shy around humans, running off at the slightest disturbance.  Usually they get along, but occasionally I have seen them squawk and flap their wings at each other.  Usually they walk single file through the woods, with one of the turkeys leading, and one bringing up the end.  There will always be a couple of turkeys on the lookout while the others eat. I do not usually see the males, but they are larger and have more fluffy feathers and a large tail that they display.  Hens (female turkeys) make a clucking sound that sounds a bit like a chicken.  The males (called toms), make a gobbling sound that can be heard at quite a distance.  Young turkeys are called poults. Once I heard a male wild turkey in the woods gobbling at dawn and dusk, almost like a rooster.

Interesting facts about Wild Turkeys:

The Wild Turkey almost became our national bird, but lost by one vote to the Bald Eagle (Benjamin Franklin called them “birds of courage”).

They have very good eyesight and have a field of vision that starts at 270 degrees.

They can run at speeds of up to 25 mph, and fly at speeds of up to 55mph.

They can recognize and use more than thirty unique vocal sounds.

They can live longer than ten years in the wild.

They roost in trees at night, and their dark feathers help them hide from predators.
References:

Farm Sanctuary Quarterly Newsletter

Stan Tekiela, Birds of Michigan (Cambridge,MN: Adventure Publications, 2004) pages 161-162.

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