| The wild turkey (Mellagris gallopavo) is the largest game bird in the United States of which there are 5 sub species, Eastern, Florida, Gould's, Merriam's and Rio Grande. These sub species can and do cross breed which create unique hybrids. Wild turkeys fly at a speed of about 35 - 45 miles per hour.|
(Male) Tom Turkey:
Wild turkey toms by the time they're 10 months old (jakes), weigh 14 or 15 pounds. As adults, gobblers typically weigh in between 17 and 22 pounds and stand 36 to 40 inches in height.
(Female) Hen Turkey:
In all the subspecies turkey hens are noticeably smaller than toms, usually weighing in at 8 to 11 pounds and standing about 30 inches in height. Turkey hens nest in a variety of habitat types, including pine forests and young cutovers/regeneration areas, old fields, hay fields, and rights-of-way. Nest sites generally have dense, herbaceous cover and some shrub cover at the ground level, with some form of woody structure around the nest. The majority of nests are located within 30 - 40 feet of a forest edge such as a logging road or firebreak.
Young turkeys consume mostly insects the first couple of weeks after hatching, and thereafter quickly begin to pick up fruits and seeds. For poult protection, vegetation dense enough to afford some cover from predators is necessary. Forest edges adjoining fields and openings can provide this cover and are excellent brood habitat during this vulnerable time. Forest harvesting activities can be planned to provide a good mix of mature to young forest.
Fall Turkey Habits:
During the fall, turkeys begin to shift their ranges as food sources change to such items as dogwood fruits and oak acorns. Many times forests will provide better winter range for turkeys than other vegetative types, as mast foods such as acorns become available. Turkeys may move from pines into mixed pine-hardwood or hardwood stands during this period, but pine stands may continue to see heavy use in winter (pine seed is good turkey food).
Spring Turkey Habits:
During the spring, as winter flocks break up, a variety of forested habitats are used, but turkeys tend to move toward areas with greater amounts of openings such as pasture fields. Openings are used extensively during the spring breeding season as areas to display and mate. They also provide a food source of greens and insects.
Turkey Roosting Habits:
Turkeys roost in a variety of forested habitats but often prefer to roost in conifers located adjacent to a water source. On upland forested sites, turkeys frequently roost on slopes near ridgetops or knolls. Many times these roost sites offer protection from adverse weather, with the particular roost tree chosen for protection.