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Wild Turkeys...Our Unusual Fall Visitors

Updated on October 2, 2014

Wild Turkeys in the Neighborhood

It's not Thanksgiving, but turkeys were abundant on our street today! I'm talking real life wild turkeys. They decided to pay us a fall visit, and it was very unusual for our part of town.

They spent the morning foraging for food in our yards, and then left as suddenly as they appeared.

I became a little intrigued and decided to learn a little more about these large birds.

I began to look up some habits and characteristics of wild turkeys, and you will see the fruits of my labor below.

Don't forget to take the quiz and sign my guestbook! Oh, and one more thing, make your opinion heard in the turkey duel toward the bottom of the page!

Meet the Fearless Five!

five wild turkeys
five wild turkeys

Have you ever wandered through your neighborhood to find something out of the ordinary? Well, that is what happened to me and my family.

We live in a neighborhood where the houses are fairly close together, and there are a lot of pets...especially dogs...dogs that bark......a lot!

This didn't deter our newest fall visitors, however! Five wild turkeys graced our neighborhood with their presence for most of the morning. It was a nice diversion in an otherwise busy day. Of course, you know I had to turn it into a Squidoo page, uh, I mean Squidpaws page. (Even though turkeys don't have paws...)

So check out my tribute to the turkeys I call the Fearless Five!

Turkeys in the Neighborhood on YouTube - My neighborhood isn't the only one turkeys visit!

More Photos of The Fearless Five

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Our five fearless turkey friends!Foraging for food.A lone turkey.
Our five fearless turkey friends!
Our five fearless turkey friends!
Foraging for food.
Foraging for food.
A lone turkey.
A lone turkey.
wild turkey
wild turkey

Background of Wild Turkeys

The wild turkey is native to North America. At the time the first settlers arrived, wild turkeys were plentiful. However, by the end of the 19th century to about 1930, the wild turkey was almost extinct, except for the forest areas that were very remote or hard to get to.

Extinction was almost a reality due to early settlers chopping down many trees for building houses and for firewood. Turkeys spend most of the winter in the forests, but the forests were being thinned dramatically. Hunting also was a major factor in the decline of wild turkeys, since the turkey was a very good, nutritious food source.

By the end of the Great Depression, forests had regenerated to the point that it became feasible to try to re-introduce the wild turkey back into its natural habitats.

The numbers dropped...

Only around 30,000 wild turkeys remained in North America in the early 1900's.

Conservation Efforts

Different methods were tried to successfully replenish the wild turkey population. Attempts were made to raise turkeys on farms, but these turkeys were too domesticated and lacked the skills to survive in the wild; therefore, these attempts to use game farm turkeys for reintroduction programs failed.

The method of trapping and transplanting worked the best. Wild turkeys were caught and then transported to areas where there were no turkeys, and there they were left to reproduce naturally.

The Turkey Population now...

Today there are more than 7 million wild turkeys in North America!

Let's talk turkey!

The wattle is the flap of skin under the turkey's chin. It can turn bright red when the turkey is upset or when courting.

The snood is the flap of skin that hangs over the turkey's beak.

Feathers are Important

An adult turkey has between 5,000 and 6,000 feathers. The feathers serve to keep the turkey warm and dry. They are irridescent with varying colors of red, green, bronze, copper and gold.

The male has the most colorful feathers. The female is more of a drab brown color, which helps her blend into her surroundings.

Flying skills are important too!

Wild turkeys can fly at speeds of up to 55 miles per hour, but only for short distances.

Mating Habits

In spring, the mating season begins. A male turkey "gobbles" for the females and struts around with his feathers fanned out and his wing tips dragging the ground. He is hoping to attract as many hens as he can to mate with.

Mating Call of a Wild Turkey

Nesting Habits

After mating, hens will usually lay one egg a day until they reach about 9-18 eggs total. She will then incubate the eggs for about 28 days, periodically turning them in the nest until they are ready to hatch.

Wild Turkey's Hatching

Did you know?

Adult male turkeys are called toms. Adult female turkeys are called hens. Very young turkeys are poults. Juvenile males are called jakes. Juvenile females are called jennies. A group of turkeys is a flock.

wild turkeys
wild turkeys

Benjamin Franklin's Esteem for the Wild Turkey

Here is Benjamin Franklin's letter to his daughter, after the Bald Eagle had been chosen as our country's mascot. This letter speaks of his disapproval of the choice, and highlights his reasons that the turkey would have been a better choice.

He wrote:

"For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.

With all this Injustice, he is never in good Case but like those among Men who live by Sharping & Robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. 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. For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America... He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a Red Coat on."

When Turkeys Attack...

This is the attack mode that Benjamin Franklin spoke of at the end of his letter...I suppose they could be kind of fierce when threatened!

More admiration for the wild turkey from John James Audubon!

John James Audubon also talked about the patriotic qualities of the wild turkey.

He said:

"Male turkeys can turn their heads red, white and blue by controlling the flow of oxygen to their heads while strutting."

Wild Turkey or Bald Eagle?

Sound off here and let me hear what you think. Do you agree with Benjamin Franklin, or do you think things worked out fine the way they are?

Should the wild turkey have been the choice for our national bird instead of the bald eagle?

I think Benjamin Franklin had a point, and the wild turkey would have made a great national icon!

I think Benjamin Franklin had a point, and the wild turkey would have made a great national icon!

Submit a Comment

No comments yet.

No way! I think the Bald Eagle was the perfect choice!

Submit a Comment

  • Vicki Green 5 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

    Sorry Ben, although you made some good points, the bald eagle is a much more majestic looking bird and some of the traits you consider negative could be seen in a positive way - perhaps the retreat in the face of a smaller bird attacking could be viewed as merely avoiding unneccessary conflict rather than cowardice.

  • John Norman Stewart 6 years ago from Cottonwood, CA

    It has to be the bald eagle.......:)

  • ohcaroline 6 years ago

    Are you kidding? That's probably the worst thing Benjamin Franklin ever thought of.

  • Anthony Godinho 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    I think the Bald Eagle was a good choice! :)

Let me know what you think about wild turkeys. I would love to hear about your encounters with wild turkeys or your funny stories about them.

Gobble, gobble...Sound off here about wild turkeys!

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    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      I have a page about turkeys too, as we have them in Central Florida. They are fun to see, but my friend was trapped in her car by a turkey that kept leaping at the door.

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 5 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      I enjoy the wild turkeys we see on our land from time to time. We've planted things to help make it a better habitat for them to try to encourage them to visit more often. Lots of great information I didn't know about wild turkeys.

    • Anthony Altorenna profile image

      Anthony Altorenna 5 years ago from Connecticut

      This is a very interesting and informative lens on wild turkeys, and the photos are excellent. Nicely done!

    • jnstewart profile image

      John Norman Stewart 6 years ago from Cottonwood, CA

      We sometimes have 20 or so wild turkeys parading through our yard, probably because we have lots of vacant land around us. Nice lens.

    • profile image

      ohcaroline 6 years ago

      This is a great lens.

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Wild turkeys are beautiful and so is this lens...well done...blessings! :)