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November 22, 2014 / Leslie

Weekend Birding: Wild Turkeys

In North America the turkey is the iconic symbol of the Thanksgiving day holiday and is usually depicted as a cute bird in drawings, cartoons and images wishing everyone a happy day.

For most of us, our first-hand experience with the bird is cooking the domestic species for Thanksgiving dinner. But did you know that Wild Turkeys are a fairly common bird? They can be found across most of the United States and parts of Canada, although they are more common in the east.

Male Wild Turkey


This is the image that usually comes to mind when thinking of a turkey.

I photographed this male bird in the spring. He was strutting around all puffed up, displaying his tail feathers, and calling out “gobble, gobble, gobble” to attract a mate. Males will breed with multiple mates and leave the chick-rearing to the females.

Turkeys Live in Flocks


Wild Turkeys live in flocks and can be found year-round in open forests in the US and parts of Canada. They will venture into backyards and eat at feeders, but usually only on property adjacent to the woods.

The turkeys spend most of their time on the ground where they forage for seeds, nuts and berries. At night, they roost in trees.

Yes, They Can Fly

Turkey-Flapping Wings

Turkeys usually walk or run on the ground. They can also fly, although I rarely see them do it. They will take flight in response to feeling threatened or to reach treetop roosts.

A Curious Bird


There is a large flock of Wild Turkeys that are year-round residents at a nearby park and adjoining golf course. They will wander out of the wooded area and can often be found roosting around the buildings or looking at their reflections in the windows. They don’t mind people, but will run if anyone gets too close.

A Recovered Species

In the early 20th century the Wild Turkey population began to decrease due to habitat loss, over-hunting and their popularity on the dinner table. By mid-century they were almost non-existent in Canada and rare in the United States. Eventually game officials set up a program to protect the species and their population has rebounded.

Have you seen a Wild Turkey?

Click HERE for a dynamic map of sightings over the past 4 years. Type your city in the location box to zoom in to your area and find out where the turkeys are living.


This post is linked to Saturday Snapshot, hosted by Melinda of West Metro Mommy.

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Leave a Comment
  1. Arti / Nov 22 2014 10:22 am

    No wonder I only see the wrapped up ones in supermarkets. Don’t think anyone has seen it in my neck of the woods. Thanks for the map and the informative post. Your photos are marvellous, esp. that first one.


  2. Booketta / Nov 22 2014 10:38 am

    Boy! Is that some male turkey! Nice shots.


  3. Sheila (Book Journey) / Nov 22 2014 10:53 am

    We do have wild turkeys in Minnesota!


  4. Sandra Nachlinger / Nov 22 2014 1:29 pm

    Beautiful photos of a majestic bird. Thank you for including the map too. Unfortunately, I found no sightings in my area of the Pacific Northwest.


  5. Louise / Nov 22 2014 1:39 pm

    It’s hard for me to imagine them sitting up in trees, especially if there’s a few of them! They’re so big, I imagine that they’re awkward flyers. Great post.


  6. Robyn / Nov 22 2014 2:19 pm

    My husband said he saw a wild turkey here in Idaho. I wish he could have taken a picture of it. I didn’t know they were here. I enjoyed looking around your site. Lovely photos. Nature and photography are passions of mine. Have you heard of the book, “Reclaiming the Wild Soul” by author Mary Reynolds Thompson? More than a “get back to nature” book, Reclaiming the Wild Soul awakens us to the power of Earth’s archetypes within us. We can access Earth’s wisdom even in the midst of a busy city. If you are looking for inspiration, then this is a great book.


    • Janet / Nov 24 2014 2:45 pm

      What a treat to actually get to see a wild turkey, Robyn. These photos are amazing and I hope I get to see one someday! Thank you for sharing Mary’s book – sounds like a wonderful read :-).


      • Robyn / Nov 29 2014 1:30 am

        You are welcome! It’s a great book.


  7. Suko / Nov 22 2014 2:48 pm

    Amazing photos of Wild Turkeys! We see them up in the mountains here, in both the south and the north (and perhaps in-between). I think groups of turkeys may also be referred to as “gangs”.


  8. BermudaOnion / Nov 22 2014 3:07 pm

    We used to see these quite often when we lived in Auburn and actually had one run in front of our car one time.


  9. Christine Harding / Nov 23 2014 10:32 am

    Wish we had them in England! I’m very late with my Snapshot this week (computer problems)!


  10. Mary / Nov 23 2014 7:05 pm

    We have many in my area. Last year one was seen often walking down the middle of a busy street in the area. He didn’t seem afraid of traffic or people. They really are beautiful when they puff out their finery.


  11. nrlymrtl / Nov 23 2014 9:12 pm

    That’s a pretty cool map you linked to. My parents have had wild turkey running through their yard for years and have taken lots of great pictures. They certainly can fly, high up into the ancient cottonwood trees along the Rio Grande.


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