Wild Turkey typically forage on forest floor in flocks, but they can also be found in grasslands and swamps. They actively search for nuts, berries, seeds, fruit and insects. Acorns, beechnuts, cherries and ash seeds are primary food sources.
They are chicken-like in appearance, and have short, rounded wings, heavy bills and heavy bodies. They stand three to four feet tall and can weigh up to 24 pounds.
The Wild Turkey was not present in Ohio for many years. This bird once inhabited forested areas of the entire state, providing food for Native Americans and early Ohio settlers. As the forests were converted into farms, the Wild Turkey’s population dwindled and no birds remained in the state by 1904.
The body feathers appear drab brown at a distance, but are actually iridescent when the bird appears in good light; this iridescence shows the bird’s true coloration – bronze with hints of red, green, copper and gold. Only male turkey display the ruffled feathers, fanlike tail, red head and “beard” commonly associated with these birds. They also gobble with a distinctive sound.
Wild Turkey nests are made in the ground. A shallow depression is lined with leaves and covered up with vines and other plants. Ten to fifteen eggs are laid. Here is a hen that I saw on the Fourth of July out with her offspring.
Many kids in the United States learn Wild Turkey identification early, by tracing outlines of their hands to make Thanksgiving cards. These big, spectacular birds are quite adaptable. They have become an increasingly common sight, as flocks stride around woods and clearings like miniature dinosaurs.