Wild Turkey Meleagris gallopavo


The Wild Turkey is one of the New World’s largest land birds (112 cm length). Its size, ease of culture, and the quality of its meat are responsible for a long history of domestication in both the New and Old Worlds. Where present in the wild, is a popular quarry of hunters. A native of oak and pine-oak woodlands from near sea level to high mountain slopes, where not persecuted, turkeys may become common and flocks of young males or a dominant male with his harem of females may number several dozen or more. Once common on both slopes of Mexico, Wild Turkeys are infrequently seen there—victims of hunting and habitat loss. Now, Mexican birds are largely restricted to private ranches, hunting preserves, and a handful of wildlife preserves. The situation is very different in the U.S. where introduced turkeys have spilled out of woodlands, becoming abundant in certain residential neighborhoods. Lacking suitable habitat, Wild Turkeys are largely absent from the Rocky Mountains and western deserts. However, at least five named races of turkeys inhabit a large swath of North America from the Pacific Northwest to New England, south to Florida and across the Mexican border at least to Jalisco and San Luis Potosí.

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© Gregory Budney

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: https://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/Species-Account/nb/species/wiltur