Wild Turkey—photos and links

You can see a nice photo of a male of our native subspecies of Wild Turkey here.  Although a quick glance at a turkey in weak light brings to mind a dark bird, you can see some of the gorgeous, subtle colors of the feathers in Rachel’s photo.  The male WITU also has as a strange “beard”—an odd, hair-like structure that hangs in front of the breast plumage.  (You can see that beard here.)  The beard is thought to be a male sexual ornament, although about 10 percent of adult female turkeys grow a thin beard too. This strange set of feathers is never molted and grows continuously, with its length limited only the wear from rubbing against vegetation and the ground.

You can hear the classic sound of a male Wild Turkey giving his gobble breeding call here.  Scroll down to the “typical voice” section.

Although the distribution of Merriam’s Turkeys in CO (the native subspecies in our area) has not changed much in the past 120 years, their density in various habitats has fluctuated markedly.  Unregulated hunting, grazing, and diseases took a heavy toll and by 1930, Colorado hosted few turkeys. Colorado Division of Wildlife and hunters’ groups have reversed such sharp declines by transplanting birds and through active habitat management.  Turkeys can now be found in virtually all suitable habitats in the state.

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