With a fanned out tail, breathtaking colours; he walks slow, puffed up and confident, attempting to catch the eye of his female companions. A familiar sight to those living in turkey inhabited areas during the spring months.
The turkey was such a noble bird that Benjamin Franklin suggested that the turkey should be chosen to be the United State’s National bird, as it was a dignified fowl that was a favorite food of many Americans. Unfortunately, the wild turkey had been practically wiped out by hunting and they no longer roamed freely over their traditional woodland habitat.
All about Turkeys
Male turkeys display big ruffled feathers, their fan-like tail, bald head, and a bright red beard. To the untrained eye, many do have trouble identifying male and female turkeys in the field. An aggressive hen could well puff out her feathers and quite possibly looking like a half strut. The best way to identify a gobbler (male turkey) is by their beard, although there are a number of female turkeys that also sport this unique sprig of chest hair.
As spring approaches, it prompts male turkeys to get to gobbling, which can be heard almost a kilometer and a half (approximately a mile) away. After the toms gather harems, the gobbling begins to decrease, marking the height of mating season. When fertilized hens leave to go sit on nests, you may notice that the gobbling picks up again. If there are a number of un-bred females in the area, the toms will then get back to gobbling, aiming to court any and all available females.
Female turkeys lay between four (4) to 17 eggs. Once the chicks hatch the female turkeys will feed their chicks only for a few days. Young turkeys quickly learn to fend for themselves as part of mother/child flocks that can include dozens of animals, while the males take no role in the care of young turkeys.
Wild turkeys are born with a very powerful set of legs and can run at speeds up to 25 miles per hour. Their massive wings allow flight speeds of up to 55 miles per hour through the air – pretty impressive!
If you want to enjoy these lovely birds in your backyard, turkeys forage constantly. They can be found feeding early morning right at sunrise for a few hours and then again a few hours before sundown. Turkeys eat off the ground and would welcome most seeds and grains. They are not picky about most food and will readily eat a variety of birdseed mixes simply scattered across the ground.
The spring mating season presents a great opportunity to snap some excellent photographs of these large birds fanned out and looking for love.