Wild Turkey: Large, ground-walking bird, iridescent dark brown overall with black and green bars, small, featherless, blue head that changes color according to mood, and red throat wattles. Breast beard (modified feathers) is black. The legs have spurs. It is the largest game bird in North America.
Range and Habitat
Wild Turkey: Resident in much of the southern U.S. from Arizona east, as far north as New England. Introduced to many western states, including California. Inhabits oak and pine forests; young birds need open area where they can forage for insects.
The Wild Turkey is one of only two domesticated birds originating in the New World. The other is the Muscovy Duck. European explorers took them to Europe from Mexico in the early 1500s. They were so successfully domesticated there that English colonists brought them back with them when they settled on the Atlantic Coast.
The idea that Benjamin Franklin preferred the Turkey as the national bird of the United States comes from a letter he wrote to his daughter in 1784. He criticized the choice of the Eagle as the national bird and suggested that a Turkey would have made a better alternative.
The range and numbers of Wild Turkeys had decreased in the early 1900s’ due to hunting and loss of habitat. Game managers believe their numbers were as low as 30,000. Current estimates place their population at over 7 million.
A group of turkeys has many collective nouns, including a "crop", "dole", "gang", "posse", and "raffle" of turkeys.
The Wild Turkey has a large global range reaching up to generally 4 million square kilometers. This bird can be found in Canada, Mexico and the United States. It also has vagrant populations in Australia and New Zealand as well. This bird dwells in a diversity of environments including forests, savanna, shrubland, grassland and pasturelands. The global population of this bird is estimated to be around 1.3 million individual birds. Currently, it is not believed that the population trends for this species will soon approach the minimum levels that could suggest a potential decline in population. Due to this, population trends for the Wild Turkey have a present evaluation level of Least Concern.