Critter Corner - Wild
DID YOU KNOW:
In the early 1900s only a few
thousand wild turkeys remained. Today, millions of these
large birds thrive across the United States, thanks to
restoration programs conducted by state and national
Insects, seeds and nuts,
especially acorns, are the
favorite foods. Turkeys eat twice a day, when they awake
in the morning and just before going to sleep at night.
Throughout the fall and into winter, turkeys eat a lot to put on
fat so they can survive cold weather. In severe weather a
turkey could survive about two weeks without eating.
Baby turkeys are called
poults, In the spring, mom
(hen) lays about 12 eggs in a nest on the ground. She
incubates the eggs for four weeks. After the eggs hatch,
the hen and her poults leave the nest area for good, The
poults are nearly full grown by fall.
Turkeys thrive in wooded
areas with access to open, grassy fields and water. They
gain safety at night by roosting. Turkeys get moisture
from morning dew in the warm months, but need a creek or pond
for drinking during cold weather. They feed, nest and
breed in grassy areas.
Turkeys have excellent
hearing and eyesight. The poults learn from their mother
to be alert and wary of predators. Turkeys can't run very
fast, but they can burst out of hiding at speeds up to 35 mph
for a short distance. This can really scare a predator.
Turkeys stay in groups
called flocks. Adult males (toms) form flocks; hens
with poults gather in separate flocks; young hens without
poults form a third flock; and young males (jakes) flock
together in the fall.
Turkeys keep their flocks
together by making many different sounds. They purr,
cackle, hum and gobble.
To learn more about
(Photo credits: Portrait of
wild turkey, Indiana Department of Natural Resources; Turkey tom
with females, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Turkey
nest, National Parks Service)