Elms Environmental Education Center

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April 2016: Wild Turkey

Eastern Wild Turkey
Meleagris gallopavo silvestris

Who am I?

 I am turkey, hear me gobble. I am not a very good father. In March and April I will strut around and try to mate with as many females as I can. The females will make a nest in the dirt and lay about 10-15 eggs. In about a month the eggs will hatch and the females will teach the young how to find food. I cannot fend myself well but I may kick you or stab you with my spurs. I can fly, yes I can fly. Not far, mind you, but fast, like a rocket. Often I will run away from those who are trying to catch me.

Where can you find me?

 The wild turkey is native to North America and can be found in mature forested areas throughout the continental US, though mostly in the East.

What do I eat?

 I am an omnivore, meaning I will eat both vegetables and meat. I will scour the ground with my friends looking for berries, nuts, snails, insects and other edible bits.

What might eat me?

 Ooh, the list is long. everybody loves turkey, especially humans, especially in November. Bobcats, cougars, wolves, coyotes, eagles and other non-human animals will try to eat me as an adult. Because my nests are on the ground the eggs are particularly vulnerable to snakes, raccoons, skunks and opossums.

Cool reasons why I am the critter of the month!

  • Thanksgiving! Okay, cool for you but not for me.
  • I am mating now and you may well see me strutting about in your woods.
  • My species was almost wiped out by humans but now we have recovered and there are many of us around. Thank you humans for killing most of my predators. No thanks for killing me yourselves.
  • I can change the color of my head from blue to pink to white depending on my mood.
  • I can run about 25 mph, about as fast as the fastest human.
  • When I am hanging out with my friends in a group we are sometimes called  a crop”, “dole”, “gang”, “posse”, or “raffle ... among other things.

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