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Eastern Wild Turkey
 Eastern Wild Turkey Facts and Information

Eastern Wild Turkey
Credit: Tim Ross

Common Name: Eastern Wild Turkey
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Galliformes
Family: Phasianidae
Genus: Meleagris
Species: Meleagris gallopavo
Subspecies: Meleagris gallopavo silvestris

The Eastern Wild Turkey is the biggest of the five subspecies of turkeys that inhabit North America. Adult male turkeys, also known as a gobbler or tom, average 4 feet (122 cm) in height and weigh up to 25 pounds (11 kg) and on occasion have been known to weigh up to 35 pounds (16 kg). Juvenile male turkeys, also known as jakes, will typically be half the size of a mature turkey, weighing an average of 15 - 20 pounds (7 – 9 kg). The Eastern Wild Turkey is characterized by light brown tipped tail coverts (the smaller feathers that cover the larger feathers) and dark brown tail feather tips. The breast feathers usually have black tips, while the body feathers are an iridescence of copper and bronze. Female turkeys, also known as hens, can be the same height as males, but weigh about 8 – 14 pounds (4 – 6 kg).
Eastern Wild Turkey - Left Foot Print
Left Foot Print
Eastern Wild Turkey - Right Foot Print
Right Foot Print

Eastern Wild Turkey Distribution/Habitat

Eastern Wild Turkey - Distribution

The Eastern Wild Turkey, as the name implies, is located in the eastern half of the United States. The southern range for this populous turkey is from northern Florida west to eastern Texas and the northern range is from New England and southern Canada west to Minnesota. The Eastern Wild Turkey has also been introduced into western states such as northern California, Oregon, Washington and also into Ontario. This turkey lives in the most diverse of environments and habitat; from the south-east hardwood forests and pastures, to the northern woods. The “Eastern” has the widest range of all the 5 subspecies of turkeys in North America.

Eastern Wild Turkey Diet

Eastern Wild Turkey - Eating

The “Eastern” has a variety of foods in their diet ranging from grapes and blackberries, beechnut and acorns, and grain like corn and oats. They also enjoy eating insects such as grasshoppers and beetles. Since the range of the Eastern in so large and spans many climates within North America – they are considered the most versatile of all the subspecies.

Eastern Wild Turkey Reproduction

Eastern Wild Turkey - Egg Nest
Credit: D. Gordon E. Robertson

Eastern Wild Turkeys lay their eggs from late-March to early-April, typically laying an average of 8 – 12 eggs. This process can take some time, as turkeys usually only lay one egg a day. During the incubation period of 26 - 28 days, the hen will move the eggs periodically throughout the day. Once the incubation period has passed, the eggs may hatch within a 24-hour period of one another. The hen and her newly hatched turkeys (also called poults) will leave the nest within a day in search of food.

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