Wild Birds Unlimited – Omaha, NE

October 30, 2015

Talkin’ Turkey

Filed under: Birds,Turkey — wbuomaha @ 3:19 pm
Tags: , ,

If Benjamin Franklin had his way, the Wild Turkey would be the national symbol of our country. Instead, the Wild Turkey has become the symbol of our Thanksgiving holiday.

In recent years, Wild Turkeys have become a common sight in rural settings and even some urban locales. Their preferred habitat is a combination of wooded areas, especially those with oak trees, and open clearings. Turkeys do not migrate, although they do tend to wander in the fall. They are strong flyers and commonly roost overnight in tall trees. However, they typically get around by walking or running.

Turkeys generally forage on the ground for food, scratching in the leaf and plant litter. The majority of the turkey’s diet consists of plant material. Acorns are a preferred food, but they also ingest leaves, seeds grains, berries and buds. Sometimes they scratch up roots and bulbs for food. They also frequently eat insects, spiders and snails, as well as the occasional frog, lizard, salamander or snake. Early morning and evening tend to be their most active feeding times.

At Thanksgiving, turkeys are often depicted with the appearance of the male in courtship even though breeding season occurs in the spring. The male gobbles to attract females, then puffs out his feathers, spreads his raised tail feathers, swells up his face wattles and struts around. He may rattle his wings and make humming sounds which heightens the effect. One male may mate with several females.

Nests are often located under a shrub, at the base of a tree or in tall grass. The female usually lays 10-15 eggs (but can be more or less) in a shallow depression on the ground, sparsely lined with leaves or grass. Eggs are white to buff with reddish-brown dots. Sometimes more than one female will lay eggs in the same nest. Only the females incubate the eggs and tend to the young. The incubation period ranges from 25-31 days.

The downy young leave the nest soon after hatching and feed themselves,
although the mother broods them at night for several weeks. They are not full grown for several months. Females and young of several family groups may range their territory in large flocks in search of food.

This Thanksgiving take a moment to be thankful that Wild Turkeys, whose numbers were seriously depleted at the beginning of the 20th century are making a strong comeback at the beginning of the 21st century.

Blog at WordPress.com.