Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies

Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies like Wild Turkey's make up the Phasianidae family. All the birds in this family are plump, ground-dwelling (stay on the ground) and have short legs. Birds in this family like to run instead of fly. This family also includes some of the most popular gamebirds.
A black and white drawing of a Wild Turkey
Illustration of Wild Turkey
NPS/Intern Tristan Thomas

Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)

• When they have to, Wild Turkeys can swim. They do this by tucking their wings in close to their bodies, spreading their tails, and kicking.
• Due to their large size, compact bones, and popularity as a good item, Wild Turkeys have a better known fossil record than most birds. Some turkey fossils are from more than 5 million years ago.
• Wild Turkeys usually choose to move around by walking but they can also run and fly. When threatened, females tend to choose to fly while males tend to choose running.
• When males are performing courtship rituals for females, they gobble, strut around with their tails fanned out and their wings lowered, while also making humming noises and chump sounds.

Identification Information

• Size: Goose sized or larger (Large)
• Color: Dark brown and black overall with brownish/green iridescence on most of their feathers. They have dark wings with white bars. Their tail feathers are tipped with a light brown or white. And their head and necks are bare with skin that varies in color from red, blue, or gray.
All of the above information is an abbreviated version of information gathered from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Please visit their website for more in-depth bird information.

Last updated: September 16, 2019

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