Wild turkey

wild turkey

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Courtship begins during the months of March and April, which is when turkeys are still flocked together in winter areas. In a study, the average dominant male that courted as part of a pair of males fathered six more eggs than males that courted alone.

Genetic analysis of pairs of males courting together shows that they are close relatives, with half of their genetic material being identical.

The theory behind the team-courtship is that the less dominant male would have a greater chance of passing along shared genetic material than if it were courting alone.

When mating is finished, females search for nest sites. Nests are shallow dirt depressions engulfed with woody vegetation.

Hens lay a clutch of 10—14 eggs, usually one per day. The eggs are incubated for at least 28 days.

The poults are precocial and nidifugous , leaving the nest in about 12—24 hours. Predators of eggs and nestlings include raccoons Procyon lotor , Virginia opossums Didelphis virginiana , striped skunks Mephitis mephitis , gray foxes Urocyon cinereoargenteus , groundhogs Marmota monax , other rodents and spotted skunks Spilogale ssp.

Predators of both adults and poults include coyotes Canis latrans , [32] gray wolves Canis lupus , [33] bobcats Lynx rufus , [34] cougars Puma concolor , [35] golden eagles Aquila chrysaetos [36] and possibly American black bears Ursus americanus.

Occasionally, if cornered, adult turkeys may try to fight off predators and large male toms can be especially aggressive in self-defense.

When fighting off predators, turkeys may kick with their legs, using the spurs on their back of the legs as a weapon, bite with their beak and ram with their relatively large bodies and may be able to deter predators up to the size of mid-sized mammals.

They also have been seen to chase off humans as well. However, attacks can usually be deterred and minor injuries can be avoided by giving turkeys a respectful amount of space and keeping outdoor spaces clean and undisturbed.

It formerly ranged north to southeastern South Dakota , southern Wisconsin , southern Ontario , and southwestern Maine.

It became extinct about 10, years ago. The present Californian wild turkey population derives from wild birds re-introduced during the s and 70s from other areas by game officials.

At the beginning of the 20th century the range and numbers of wild turkeys had decreased due to hunting and loss of habitat.

Game managers estimate that the entire population of wild turkeys in the United States was as low as 30, by the late s.

Game officials made efforts to protect and encourage the breeding of the surviving wild population, and some trapped birds were relocated to new areas, including some in the western states where it was not native.

There is evidence that the bird does well when near farmland, which provides grain and also berry-bearing shrubs at its edges.

In , the total U. In recent years, "trap and transfer" projects have reintroduced wild turkeys to several provinces of Canada as well, sometimes from across the border in the United States.

Attempts to introduce the wild turkey to Britain as a game bird in the 18th century were not successful. They were hunted with dogs and then shot out of trees where they took refuge.

Several other populations, introduced or escaped, have survived for periods elsewhere in Britain and Ireland , but seem to have died out, perhaps from a combination of lack of winter feed and poaching.

There are subtle differences in the coloration, habitat, and behavior of the different subspecies of wild turkeys.

The six subspecies are:. This was the turkey subspecies Europeans first encountered in the wild: Its range is one of the largest of all subspecies, covering the entire eastern half of the United States from Maine in the north to northern Florida and extending as far west as Michigan , Illinois , and into Missouri.

They number from 5. The upper tail coverts are tipped with chestnut brown. The eastern wild turkey is heavily hunted in the Eastern USA and is the most hunted wild turkey subspecies.

Most common in the Florida peninsula, they number from 80, to , birds. This bird is named for the famous Seminole leader Osceola , and was first described in It is smaller and darker than the eastern wild turkey.

The wing feathers are very dark with smaller amounts of the white barring seen on other subspecies. Their overall body feathers are an iridescent green-purple color.

They are often found in scrub patches of palmetto and occasionally near swamps, where amphibian prey is abundant. Osceola turkeys are the smallest subspecies weighing 16 to 18 pounds.

The Rio Grande wild turkey ranges through Texas to Oklahoma , Kansas , New Mexico , Colorado , Oregon , Utah , and was introduced to central and western California , as well as parts of a few northeastern states.

Population estimates for this subspecies are around 1,, Its body feathers often have a green-coppery sheen. The tips of the tail and lower back feathers are a buff-to-very light tan color.

Its habitats are brush areas next to streams, rivers or mesquite , pine and scrub oak forests. The Rio Grande turkey is gregarious.

The Merriam's wild turkey ranges through the Rocky Mountains and the neighboring prairies of Wyoming , Montana and South Dakota , as well as much of the high mesa country of New Mexico , Arizona , southern Utah and The Navajo Nation , with number from , to , birds.

The initial releases of Merriam's turkeys in resulted in establishing a remnant population of Merriam's turkeys along the east-slope of Mt. Hood and natural immigration of turkeys from Idaho has established Merriam's flocks along the eastern border of Oregon.

The subspecies was named in in honor of Clinton Hart Merriam , the first chief of the U. The tail and lower back feathers have white tips and purple and bronze reflections.

Native from the central valleys to the northern mountains of Mexico and the southernmost parts of Arizona and New Mexico.

Gould's wild turkeys are heavily protected and regulated. The subspecies was first described in They exist in small numbers in the U.

A small population has been established in southern Arizona. Gould's are the largest of the six subspecies. They have longer legs, larger feet, and longer tail feathers.

The main colors of the body feathers are copper and greenish-gold. This subspecies is heavily protected owing to its skittish nature and threatened status.

The south Mexican wild turkey is considered the nominate subspecies , and the only one that is not found in the United States or Canada.

In central Mexico, archaeological M. It is unclear whether these early specimens represent wild or domestic individuals, but domestic turkeys were likely established in central Mexico by the first half of the Classic Period c.

The south Mexican wild subspecies, M. By it was common enough so that Pilgrim settlers of Massachusetts could bring turkeys with them from England , unaware that it had a larger close relative already occupying the forests of Massachusetts.

It is one of the smallest subspecies and is best known in Spanish from its Aztec-derived name, guajolote. This wild turkey subspecies is thought to be critically endangered, as of 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 Sarah Bache on January 26, Besides he is a rank Coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the District.

He is therefore by no means a proper Emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the King birds from our Country I am on this account not displeased that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey.

Franklin never publicly voiced opposition to the bald eagle as a national symbol. The wild turkey, throughout its range, plays a significant role in the cultures of many Native American tribes all over North America.

Outside of the Thanksgiving feast, it is a favorite meal in eastern tribes. Eastern Native American tribes consumed both the eggs and meat, sometimes turning the latter into a type of jerky to preserve it and make it last through cold weather.

They provided habitat by burning down portions of forests to create meadows which would attract mating birds, and thus give a clear shot to hunters.

The feathers of turkeys also often made their way into the rituals and headgear of many tribes. Many leaders, such as Catawba chiefs, traditionally wore turkey feather headdresses.

It is one of the Navajos' sacred birds, with the Navajo people using the feathers and parts in multiple traditional ceremonies. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

For other uses, see Wild Turkey disambiguation. Retrieved 22 November Systematic and Applied Microbiology.

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